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Endless Summer Syndrome, the debut feature from Iranian director Kaveh Daneshmand, promises to bring complexity and nuance to the family drama genre. Premiered at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, the film follows Delphine (Sophie Colon), a lawyer and mother of two adopted children, whose idyllic family life in France unravels after receiving an ominous call about her husband’s fidelity.

As Sophie’s investigation unravels the truth, her suspicions about her daughter Adia (Frédérika Milano) prove misdirected. Instead, she discovers Antoine’s (Matheo Capelli) affair with Aslan (Gem Deger) in an explicit betrayal of trust. The dramatic climax leaves Sophie playing a dangerous game of chance. Spoiler alert – one of the three pillars of this anguishing love triangle dies as a result of a poisonous cocktail. “We wanted to challenge viewers’ perceptions of what’s acceptable in relationships and where the line is crossed,” commented Deger who also wrote the script.

“It’s a story of love,” explains Matheo Capelli, who plays Sophie’s writer husband, Antoine. “Antoine loves Delphine and his kids, but he has a secret and is never fully open with them. The question is, is this love for good or for worse?” Known to play different kind of characters, a cop, a husband; this role attracted Capelli with it’s complexity.

Endless Summer Syndrome review and interview

The film lures audiences in with sultry summer scenes and nudity almost customary for French films, before subverting expectations. “Delphine’s nudity at the beginning of the film shows the casual intimacy of family life, rather than sensationalism,” clarifies Gem . The nudity is used strategically in film throughout – Adia’s ) topless scene is there to add perspective to Delphine’s waning youth and to spark jealousy.

Nowhere is this boundary-pushing on fuller display than in an intense sex scene between Anton and adopted son, Aslan. Shot towards the end after the cast had bonded, both actors describe it as just another day on set. “We had some wine before shooting and nailed it in one take,” Deger chuckles.

While son Aslan brings controversy and schism within the family, adopted daughter Adia represents disaffected youth. “Asia is self-absorbed, but loves her family,” Milano explains. “Her secret-keeping shows how complicated family bonds can be.” Playing a character almost ten years younger, Milano found it easy to merge into the character. As Deger notes: “every actor’s tape was absolutely amazing. We didn’t even offer a second read but invited them all to join the project straight away.”

Lurking beneath the sensationalism, the film asks nuanced questions about family bonds. Deger explains: “We wanted to propose questions about societal taboos, rather than definitive answers. Where is the line for what’s acceptable in families or loving relationships? And when does love become toxic?”

Colon is brilliant at carrying the film, playing a detective-wife filled with doubts: “Delphine is a strong woman but with some fragility in her past and things can get quickly unravelled,” she comments. Her doubting character shows flaws and insecurities that hide beneath the veneer of a successful lawyer.

Endless summer syndrome intervirew

The editing crew – working from an attic of a Prague Film School worked hard to deliver the suspense and strike the right pace for the drama.

The ending suggests love can turn poisonous indeed. But the compassionately rendered characters show its complexity. For Daneshmand and his talented cast, “Endless Summer Syndrome” promises to keep audiences guessing about the true meanings of intimacy and connection.

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Editor in Chief of Ikon London Magazine, journalist, film producer and founder of The DAFTA Film Awards (The DAFTAs).