Berlinale 2024: My Summer with Irène (2024) (Quell’estate con Irène)

My Summer with Irène, directed by Carlo Sironi, is a beautiful summer elegy by the sea for two girls together.

Happy Together

by Alexa Dalby

My Summer with Irène

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Two teenage girls in remission from cancer meet by chance at a hospital summer camp and spontaneously escape organised, boring institutional life to spend a glorious summer together by the sea.

The girls regret the years of normal life they feel they have lost through cancer and grab this chance to forget, not to have to tell people about their health, and make up for lost time and lost experiences. It should be happy but the underlying melancholy that it could be their last summer can’t be avoided.

The girls rent an old rustic stone cottage in a Sicilian village by the sea. Irène (talented Noée Abita, Ava) is more lively and outgoing and the other is shy Clara (Maria Camilla Brandenburg). They meet a group of holidaying teens. Now the narrative focus shifts to Clara as she experiences first love with one of them. At the end of the summer the weather changes and the two know they will have to return to a reality that will be different for each of them.

The cinematography is glorious: the clear, sparkling sea the girls luxuriate in, the warm rocks they bask on and the dappling sunlight on the hidden ruins they find. It’s lovely to see the relationship between two girls who care for each other, are so different but, crucially, aren’t in competition and don’t have plot-induced misunderstandings. That summer they revel in new independence and the freedom to find out whatever life may bring, recording their holiday on an old video recorder they find, rather like in Aftersun.

My Summer with Irène looks and is a beautiful coming-of-age film. After Sole, it’s the second feature directed by Carlo Sironi, who was European Discovery winner at the 2020 European Film Awards.

My Summer with Irène premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on 18 February 2024. International sales are by Fandango and international representation by The PR Factory.

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