Fuelled by a scorchingly erotic performance from Isabelle Adjani, the ingeniously plotted One Deadly Summer
spirals from provincial drama into a disturbing and complex psychological thriller, proving itself among the most under-rated of modern French films. In the hottest summer since Body Heat
, Eliane (Adjani) and local mechanic Pin Pon (Alain Souchon) begin an affair then marry. From this starting point (a similar plot device to Chabrol's Le Boucher
, 1969), life in a beautiful small town in Southern France begins to come apart. Under Jean Becker's direction every character is fully rounded, and the naturalistic tone adds considerably to the impact of an intense drama that offers the perfect showcase for Adjani, establishing once and for all what an extraordinarily accomplished actress she can be. Where Beatrice Dalle in Betty Blue
was similarly erotically charged and mentally unstable, Eliane has a dark and obsessive agenda that anticipates the sexual psychosis of Basic Instinct
. Combining an art-house love of the French countryside with more class than a dozen Hollywood erotic thrillers, One Deadly Summer
is a striking vision of sex gone bad which builds to a shocking climax. It deserves to take its place as a modern classic. --Gary S Dalkin
Isabelle Adjani stars as Elle, a beautiful, moody and unsettlingly provocative nineteen-year-old who returns to the quiet Provence village of her birth to look after her crippled father and German mother. Initially, her arousing presence enlivens the usually staid village, captivating the young men; one, Pin Pon in particular. However, as Elle becomes part of the village she starts to turn friend against friend, brother against brother and traps Pin Pon into marriage as part of a plan to avenge her mother's rape. Using a shifting voice-over narration, an intricate psychosexual mystery is constructed which slowly reveals Elle's obsessions and her manipulative and cunning personality.