- Review by Lara Gallagher
Göran Olsson’s That Summer acts as a revival of the eccentric life of the ‘Edie’ mother and daughter relationship seen in the classic documentary Grey Gardens. Presenting the lost film rolls of the scrapped documentary (led by Lee Radziwill and Peter Beard) that led to the final creation of Grey Gardens, Olsson highlights the unusual yet fascinating relationships between American socialites and artists during the summer of 1972. The well-known Big and Little Edie who live in their own bohemian squalor in the Hamptons are depicted like never before. Merged with original footage by Andy Warhol and present-day interviews with artist Peter Beard, Olsson succeeds in creating a pastiche and vintage masterpiece. Unlike the somewhat staged version of the Edie relationship in previous depictions, these four film reels capture the raw nature of the scandalous theatricality that is present between mother and daughter.
Radziwill’s elegance in dealing with the duo and the renovators of the bohemian mansion makes for an entertaining collection of snippets also. The unusual dialogue and subject matters that are discussed, such as the make-up montage where conversations on the whereabouts of Little Edie’s eyebrow pencil are abundant, paint a vivid picture for the spectator of the lifestyle they lead and opens a window into the world of the privileged Hamptons inhabitants. Although the lifestyle of the Edies is seen as challenging and they are presented as victims within the films on multiple occasions, the audience are very much aware that the pairs lives are devoid of any financial responsibilities. A comedic point in the film is where Little Edie exclaims that she must “source a job in the fall” and how she “never feels right here”. The scattered voiceover done by Peter Beard and Lee Radziwill, does little to aid the film other than give context to a particular moment, however the nostalgia felt by both parties is apparent and acts alongside the soundtrack in creating sentimentality.
The original music written by Goran Kajfeš and David Österberg is filled with orchestral expression and melancholic string motifs illustrating the lugubrious nature of the documentary as a whole, however the soundtrack is also occasionally dotted with sections of light-hearted jazz lifting the mood slightly. In short, the film is an accurate yet harrowing depiction of the upper class, tainted with the exquisite artistic influences of Warhol, Beard and of course, Olsson himself.