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Summer With Mrs Von Mausch short film review

Updated: Jun 4, 2021


Directed by: #DavidPomes

Written by: #DavidPomes


An older lady and a young teenage girl, both in sunglasses and fur coats, walk down a New York street under an umbrella.
Still from Summer With Mrs Von Mausch

Movies have always provided us with their fair share of intergenerational friendships. From Mr Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid (1984), to Léon and Mathilda in Léon (1994), to Carl Fredricksen and Russell in Up (2009), unlikely alliances have found fertile ground to flourish from through shared experiences in difficult times and a meeting of minds across the generational divide. Here, writer and director David Pomes' short film, Summer With Mrs Von Mausch, which was originally released in 2011 but has now found its way to the internet mainstream via Vimeo, borrows from two of the best examples of this sub-genre, Harold and Maude (1971) and more directly Lost In Translation (2003), with the unlikely coming together of two seemingly unrelated characters through shared circumstance which then blossoms into a beautiful friendship.

Summer (Learner) is thirteen years old and has been foisted on her divorced father (also Pomes) for the holidays in his Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan. Sadly, yet rather predictably, Summer's father doesn't have any time for her as he's busy being a Gordon Gecko money maker out in the City. So she spends her days cooped up in the apartment, luxurious as it is, with nobody around and nothing to do. There's also that damnable Mrs Von Mausch (McGreevy) next door who is typified by Summer's father as a 'crazy old lady' because she constantly plays her music way too loud and is eccentric in her dress and mannerisms.

As one day lazily sleepwalks into the next a chance encounter in the lift pushes Mrs Von Mausch to knock on Summer's door, ostensibly over an interest in nail polish, but really because of a beautiful scream for help which she had heard coming from Summer's apartment. Soon a burgeoning friendship is formed and despite her father's lacklustre protestations, Summer begins to spend more and more time next door at Mrs Von Mausch's, learning all about her family and her youth.

What Summer really wants though, is to get out into the city. Mrs von Mausch, being an eccentric recluse, isn't too enamoured at the prospect, but after popping a few of the good pills and giving one to Summer the new found friends are ready to take to the streets. Obviously, after the party high there has to be the come-down, and the denouement of the film may leave some struggling to come to terms with the way society, or in other words successful white men, treat those they deem to be 'too different' or 'a nuisance'. Summer's time in New York ends abruptly, as does her friendship with Mrs Von Mausch, and we are left asking just who it is that's done the real lasting damage to a young girl who only wants to be seen, listened to, and allowed to enjoy life.

Apart from the obvious themes of friendship and marginalisation, Summer With Mrs Von Mausch tries to explore aspects of mental illness and the treatment of sufferers within society. Unfortunately it doesn't delve too deeply and although the film is only fourteen minutes long that oversight doesn't appear to be the result of a short run time. Pomes seems to want to keep the story focused on the main relationship and the adventure elements rather than get into a real discussion of the themes he brings up. In one sense this keeps things light and fresh but in reality it means he misses a good opportunity for a sensitive showcase of the characters involved.

While Annie McGreevy does a wonderful job of bringing Mrs Von Mausch to life we are presented, through the story and the script, with little more than a caricature of someone with deep running troubles. Similarly with Summer and her father there is far more to be explored and exposed than the blunt conversations and stilted scripting that is offered. While the direction is assured and the production design generally well executed, what we are left with is a film that doesn't completely hang together. There are plenty of unanswered questions and a genuine black hole in terms of trajectory and intent.

Summer With Mrs Von Mausch boasts grandiose classicism from the start with its Beethoven and its art and its architecture, however, it leaves out all the things that make the classics great – the humanity, the palpable realism, the identifiable nature of it all – and that underlying emptiness is its greatest tragedy.



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