Summerfield (1977)

Genres - Mystery  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - Australia  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This arthouse variant on the mystery genre spellbinds some viewers and frustrates others -- but it is a journey worth taking. Cliff Green's script moves at a deliberate pace, carefully layering its clues and nuances to create a situation where the viewer is always off-guard. Some viewers will be able to guess the twist that precipitates the finale but that is followed by some truly unexpected moments and a surprise coda that lingers in the memory. Nick Tate makes a solid everyman-style protagonist and Michelle Alexander is appropriately mysterious and unpredictable as the woman whose secrecy beguiles the hero. Also worthy of note is a scene-stealing turn from Geraldine Turner as a lusty landlady who hovers over the hero when he's at his boarding house home. Finally, and most importantly, Summerfield boasts impressive direction by Ken Hannam, who packs the film with eye-catching imagery of the island locale and creates a hypnotic, quietly unnerving atmosphere that suits the story well. His work is bolstered effectively by a lush, moody musical score from Bruce Smeaton that seals the film's intense atmosphere. In short, Summerfield is not for all tastes but those who can get into its hypnotic and enigmatic style will find it offers its own unique rewards.