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On the idyllic Italian coast in the midst of World War II, the carefree son (Jean-Louis Trintignant) of a high-ranking Fascist blissfully ignores the war while falling into a passionate, risk-all affair with a beautiful widow.
Valerio Zurlini made his international name with his second feature, which confirmed the emergence of an important Italian auteur. Set in 1943 at the seaside resort of Rimini (Fellini's birthplace), Violent Summer stars a young Jean-Louis Trintignant as Carlo Caremoli, the son of a high-ranking Fascist who has managed to avoid military service and appears oblivious to the war raging around him. He and his wealthy teenaged friends treat every incursion from the war as mere annoyance; a German fighter plane means only an interruption in their seaside idyll. One day on the beach Carlo meets the thirty-year-old Roberta (Eleanora Rossi-Drago), the beautiful widow of a war hero with a little daughter and, despite warnings from all sides, falls into a passionate, risk-all affair. As he is finally sent off to war during the final days of Mussolini's reign, Carlo is torn between Roberta's desperate entreaties to hide and his sense of duty. A highlight of the Cinematheque's Zurlini retrospective in 2000, this richly textured, atmospheric coming-of-age tale is considered one of the director's best films. "It strikes home. . . . Signorina Drago and M. Trintignant convey the sensuous magnetism of the two lovers with such perceptive precision that the affair consistently touches heart and mind" (The New York Times).