Summer Lovers Blu-ray Review: Beautiful Scenery, Beautiful People, Not Much Else

Randal Kleiser's follow-up to Grease takes him to Greece for a film that ought to be a lot more fun than it actually is.
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After the massive success of both Grease and The Blue Lagoon, director Randal Kleiser was given free reign to make pretty much any movie he wanted.  Apparently what he wanted was to make a listless film featuring beautiful scenery, beautiful people and about as much casual nudity as an R-rated movie could stand in 1982.

A young American couple, Michael (Peter Gallagher) and Cathy (Daryl Hannah), decide to spend the summer between finishing college and starting their careers vacationing on the Greek island of Santorini.  She has always been a good girl, never getting into trouble and always behaving.  He has always done what he’s been told, going to the school of his parent’s choice with plans to take over the family business.  Both of them are looking for a little excitement before becoming full-blown adults.  For Cathy, this means buying books on sex and trying out a little light S&M.  For him, it means letting his eyes roam to the many beautiful women frolicking in the sun.

Those eyes eventually land on Lina (Valérie Quennessen), a free-spirited French archeologist temporarily in Greece on an important dig.  Michael stalks her for awhile until she finally gives in and sleeps with him.  Guilt-ridden, he tells Cathy who at first is upset, but then decides that her new non-goody-two-shoes persona should be ok with it.  As long as she doesn’t have to watch.  Then she decides maybe she’d like to watch.  Then maybe it would be ok if they shared Michael together (but not too-together as this is still a mainstream movie made in the early 1980s).  In my favorite scene, we watch a montage as each girl makes love to Michael while the other one sleeps next to them on the bed - a waterbed, mind you, where it would be impossible to catch any rest while they were making waves!).

The three spend the rest of the movie dancing, drinking, partying, laying nude on the beach, and making love as much as possible.  That’s pretty much how the movie goes.  There is very little conflict or drama.  The girls, in turn, get briefly jealous of one another but then decide they like each other and it's all ok.  Cathy’s mom shows up, gives disapproving looks, and then just sort-of leaves without really being too upset.  Periodically, Kleiser seems to think about saying something about the fleeting nature of romance, or the difficulties of maintaining a three-way love affair, or life as a free spirit, but before things get too heavy, he whisks us away with a beautiful sunset or a bit of casual nudity.

All of which makes it a pretty film to look at but one that never gets up to anything particularly interesting. If Kleiser had explored his themes a little more fully, it could have been good, or if he’d let go of any attempt at depth and just had fun in the sun, it could have been a mindless, beautiful bit of fluff.  But instead his intentions get in the way of the fun and the fun keeps distracting from the seriousness.

This new disk from Kino Lorber looks and sounds good.  The video looks just a little too bright, maybe a little washed out, but I’m not sure if that’s this transfer or the way it was shot.  Otherwise, all the beautiful scenery and the beautiful people look, well, beautiful.  Audio is good.  It's not a particular robust film, audio wise. The music comes in loud but not over bearing, and the dialogue is clear.  Extras include a commentary from Randal Kleiser, which was ported over from an earlier release, and an old EPK making-of feature.

If you are like me and you have fond memories of watching Summer Lovers on cable and want to relive that pubescent nostalgia, this Kino Lorber disk will suit you just fine. If you want to kick back and view some beautiful people frolicking in paradise, then check yourself in.  If, however, you are looking for something with a little depth, perhaps a drama about three people falling in love that has something to say about the complicated nature of such things, then you’ll want to look elsewhere.

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