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That Summer of White Roses Review

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Andrija (Conti) is a Yugosalvian lifeguard who has never had the chance to save anyone's life. Along comes an eligible widow, her son in tow, but will they throw Andrija a line into their lives?

★★★★

Somewhere in the world, there is always one film festival at which a complete clinker can score points, a contention borne out with the inexplicable news that this film beat the likes of Life And Nothing But and Parenthood to snap up the main prize at Tokyo last year.*It is Yugoslavia in the last summer of World War II. Tom Conti, attempting to reprise his slightly more convincing role as a Southern European in Shirley Valentine — and playing it somewhere between John Noakes and Patrick Troughton’s Dr Who — is Andrija, a simple-minded lifeguard in a stripey shirt. All around him, old folks and children swim and sunbathe, and Andrija is a little disheartened that in all the years he’s been doing the job, he has never actually saved anyone’s life.

This sorry state of affairs is about to change, however, with the arrival of a young widow (George) and her son (Sharron), and the pace steps up to near-pedestrian when Andrija suddenly gets to do his job by fishing the local SS commander out of the drink. Despite this rare flash of action, That Summer Of White Roses is a thoroughly dull experience, with Tom Conti, all facial mulling and gentle North Country vowels, never quite managing to convince. Susan George does her best to look sincere as the most unlikely wife of a Resistance leader since Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, while Rod Steiger in his half-dozen scenes as the local Wise Man suggests a lived-in integrity and little else.

Pleasant enough to look at, but with less tension than a picnic.

Little more than a TV Times cover story (husband and wife team Susan George and Simon McCorkindale are the producers) masquerading as a movie.