IN lieu of that beautiful private villa at St. Tropez that you've been thinking about renting this year, why not save yourself some money by simply going to see the French film, "A Mistress for the Summer" ("Une Fille Pour l'Eté"), which opened at the Guild yesterday.
It will afford an opportunity for you to have an 80-minute look at an exquisite place on the Riviera, complete with gardens, a sun-drenched swimming pool and dazzling views of the Mediterranean, all blue and white-flecked, beyond. Obviously, it is in color, so it will give you the full effect.
It will also afford an opportunity for you to meet some of the types that you might have as next door neighbors in such a sanctuary for the rich. And after you've met these people, you might want to change your mind.
For the characters flung together by Eduardo Molinaro in this film are as pompous and provoking a lot of people as any halfway healthy person would run to avoid. There's this cynical St. Germain de Près painter down from Paris with a wistful, dark-haired girl he has picked up in a bar on the understanding that she's to be his companion pour l'été.
There's the hostess, a chic and haughty creature, who has a difficult son. It seems he wants to go to Israel to work on what his mother calls "a Communist farm." And there are swarms of sybaritic people who come barging in from time to time, to play volleyball, shoot seagulls for target practice and lie around in the sun.
And what they do in this land of lotus-eaters, besides eat lotuses, of course, is mainly fret and hassle over the dark-haired girl. First the cynical painter wants her, then the mother wants her for her son, then the son wants her, then the painter doesn't want her, then the son gets discouraged—and so it goes.
It's a mixed up and meaningless contention that Mr. Molinaro has in this film, which he and Maurice Cleval have adapted from the latter's novel. And Mr. Molinaro does not help matters by presenting it in a style that completely disorders the narrative with flashbacks, jump cuts and such. As a consequence, no tension develops—no clarity or identity, indeed — so it comes down the situation of your not caring who, if anybody, gets the girl.
As additional pretensions and hokum, there are some elaborate and fairly colorful scenes of a birthday party for the hostess and a bacchanalia in St. Tropez. But all that adds up to nothing but more weariness with these characters, of whom Pascale Petit as the poor girl is the least hard to take.
Micheline Presle as the hostess and Michel Auclair as the cynical gent are too remote and obscure for any feeling but one of mild disgust. Georges Poujouly is a dull mask as the son.
© Bosley Crowther, "The New York Times", March 28, 1964