‘A summer with Fifi’: A moment of borrowed adolescence


Edward Zwick, director of ‘The Last Samurai’ and ‘Blood Diamond’, said: “Adolescence is the time to live and experience life before the drudgery of adulthood.” After making several short films and working on the script for ‘Vacaciones con mamá’, the directorial tandem made up of Jeanne Aslan and Paul Saintillan launch to direct their debut feature, ‘A Summer with Fifi’winner of the New Directors Award at the 70th San Sebastian Festival.

A summer with Fifi

The way it starts ‘A summer with Fifi’ breaks with what can initially be expected of herwith its protagonist, a 15-year-old teenager, living in an apartment from a popular neighborhood, taking care of her nephew, a baby just a few months old. His mother has no job, his stepfather is a good for nothing, her older sister is looking for a job to leave the family apartment and go with her boyfriend and father, her son (who also lives in the apartment); she in addition to putting up with another sister and two other little brothers.

A real ‘patera floor’, with poor Fifi taking on tasks that other girls her age wouldn’t do. Aslan and Saintillan, who also signed the script, set up their film as a social drama typical of Guédiguian or the Grozeva-Valchanov duo. It’s more, It has a sequence worthy of a Dardenne movie.with Fifi going downtown on her bike to run errands.

A summer with Fifi

But Aslan and Saintillan are also looking to make a coming-of-age movie. Hence, they introduce a situation that disrupts the girl’s summer plans (for the better, since the teenager had nothing planned but to survive). The interesting thing about the film going through this genre is that it takes advantage of the elements of adolescent films to show something unusual in films of social denunciation: the right of adolescents to live their own adolescence.

Céleste Brunnquell and Quentin Dolmaire shine in this refreshing debut

This is accomplished by Fifi sneaking into the chalet of an old school friend, whose family is away on summer vacation. What the young woman did not expect is to find the older brother of her friend, Stéphane, who is studying in Paris and has returned to the family residence due to a personal crisis. In this crossroads of lives, between the young woman from humble origins and the university student from a bourgeois middle-class family, the film avoids commonplaces for this type of story, causing an incipient story of love and self-discovery to be made from a social perspective.

A summer with Fifi

Because Fifi, given her reality, is more mature and pragmatic than the bohemian Stéphane, who represents that generation that has been sold that there is no future. In Fifi’s case, it’s a matter of survival. For this reason, this clash of worlds draws attention and gives the film an unexpected complexity, which elevates it thanks to a good script treatment with the characters.

The performances of its leading actors are also essential. Céleste Brunnquell already stood out in ‘Les Éblouis’ and was recently seen in ‘The Origin of Evil’. Her fresh and spontaneous style evokes that of brilliant actresses such as Louane Emera or Lou de Laâge. Magnificent leading role that demands many more for the interpreter. Mention also goes to Quentin Dolmaire, who knows how to defend the role of an empty young man, whose spirit was buried by a family with a tendency to cut dreams quickly, since those “do not ensure a fixed salary.”

With an ending that vindicates the social gaze through coming-of-age movies, ‘A summer with Fifi’ shines and turns out to be a delicious debutwith actors who embody a new generation of performers who bring a fresh air to the industry.


The best: The difficult balance it achieves between being a tape of social denunciation and a coming-of-age movie

Worst: Perhaps certain moments are somewhat predictable.

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