DVD Review: That Summer

STUDIO: IFC | DIRECTOR: Göran Hugo Olsson
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 11, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $17.99
SPECS: NR | 81 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | Stereo 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video  | Overall

Put together by Goran Hugo Olsson, That Summer is a kind of sibling film to 1975’s Grey Gardens, the landmark vérité by the Maysles casts its documentary eye on Big Edie Bouvier Beale and her daughter, known as Little Edie (relatives of Jackie O.), and their early 1970s lives in their decaying, cat-filled mansion on Long Island.

That Summer is a presentation of recently discovered footage from 1972 consisting of film shot by photographer/filmmaker Peter Beard, along with additional of material from New York City avant-gardist Jonas Mekas. Some of the footage was also shot by Albert Maysles, who returned to the estate with his brother David three years later to embark on what eventually became Grey Gardens.

Little Edie Beale and Lee Radiwiill in Last Summer

The second half of the short feature consists primarily of the Beale women, whose constant patrician-accented squabbling amidst their debris and overgrown gardens remains engaging and fascinating. Before that, though, we are treated to candid looks of others Beard filmed while visiting the Hamptons that summer, led by socialist Lee Bouvier Radziwill and her friends, including Andy Warhol, Mick and Bianca Jagger and Truman Capote. The marvelously textured footage plays like a postcard of a time and place untouched by tourists, traffic and, well, let’s face it, those who didn’t have the money or privilege to stay there…

Occasional voiceovers are provided by Radziwill and Beard, whose photography and collages are also on display.

Of the Beales and their lives, it is Beard who remarks,“You couldn’t make that up. They were in a dreamworld…and it was okay.”

Buy or Rent That Summer

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.