Sundance Film Review: The Summer of Sangaile

Posted January 24, 2015 in
The Summer of Sangaile
Sangaile and Austé in a field of dreams. Photo: The Summer of Sangaile
The Summer of Sangaile
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Alanté Kavaïté

Watching this film from the mezzanine of The Rose Wagner, The Summer of Sangaile’s motif of vertigo became immediately palpable for me, as stunt planes performed aerial acrobatics in the opening scene. Set in Lithuania and spoken in Lithuanian, Sangaile (Julija Steponaityté) is a timid, adolescent young woman who marvels at such stunt planes, but she fears heights on account of her vertigo. Austé (Aisté Diržiūté) coaxes her to hang out with her and her friends group; eventually, the two girls become lovers as Austé, an aspiring fashion designer/photographer, threads her way into Sangaile’s heart by making clothes for and taking photos of her. Once Sangaile begins to share her proclivity for wrist-cutting with Austé, she finally opens up her love/fear of stunt-plane flying. Cross-referenced with Sangaile’s overbearing, former-ballerina mother, Sangaile relies on Austé to provide sensual and emotional support for her skyward progression. The Summer of Sangaile is about the two girls’ creation of a sensual, warm world for their relationship, from which Sangaile propels herself out of her depressed tendencies. Vaginal symbols flash throughout the film—roses, seashells, billowy bits of fabric and cut wrists—which generate a solidly feminine aura for a film that, for a large part, successfully evades being subsumed by the male gaze. The cinematography in the lakeside Lithuanian landscape is beautiful, for it weaves through and hooks the film’s narrative to make up for sparse dialogue. The main pitfalls of Summer of Sangaile prove to be relatively flat character development for Sangaile and Austé and an altogether slow-moving second half. Pound for pound, though, it’s a delightful film with stimulating visuals. –Alexander Ortega

Screening Times:
Time: Wednesday, Jan. 28 @ 9:30 p.m. Venue: Redstone Cinema 1, Park City
Time: Friday, Jan. 30 @ 5:30 p.m. Venue: Prospector Square Theatre, Park City