Last Summer in the Hamptons (1995)


(director/writer/editor: Henry Jaglom; screenwriter: Victoria Foyt; cinematographer: Hanania Baer; music: Rick Baitz; cast: Victoria Foyt (Oona Hart), Viveca Lindfors (Helena Mora), Jon Robin Baitz (Jake Axelrod), Andre Gregory (Ivan Axelrod), Martha Plimpton (Chloe Garfield), Brooke Smith (Lois Garfield), Roddy McDowall (Thomas), Kristoffer Tabori (Nick Mora), Savannah Boucher (Suzanne), Roscoe Lee Browne (Freddy), Nick Gregory (George), Melissa Leo (Trish Axelrod), Ron Rifkin (Eli Garfield), Diane Salinger (Marian Mora Garfield), Holland Taylor (Davis Mora Axelrod), Henry Jaglom (Max Berger) ; Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Judith Wolinsky; Rainbow Film Co.; 1995)
More self-indulgent than a work of art.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

“Last Summer in the Hamptons” is a semi-autobiography, pseudo-documentary, that tells about three generations of a family of actors, as they all come together for a final weekend to put on their annual summer play in Long Island’s posh beach resort of the Hamptons. It’s written by Jaglom and his actor wife Victoria Foyt, who also appear in the film. The best I can say about this Jaglom vehicle, is that it annoyed me less than most of his others. It’s a talk-fest where the guests endlessly chatter away about art, trivialities and gossip. Some of it is amusing and insightful, some of it is annoying. Take your pick. Though a cross between Chekhov and an amateur summer stage production, it still plays out as a typical muddled Jaglom plot becoming more self-indulgent than a work of art.

The East Hampton summer vacation retreat, which also served for years as an acting school, is being put on the market by the family matriarch and host of the gathering, Helena Mora (Viveca Lindfors-the 74-year-old died after the film was completed), because economic woes made it no longer possible to afford the luxury of a second home.

Besides the odd assortment of family members and friends gathering for the weekend, there are pupils of the acting school. The guest of honor is a famous Hollywood star who only regrets that she has not been accepted for a serious actress, Oona Hart (Victoria Foyt), and now has ambitions to find both commercial and artistic success. She’s in a blockbuster movie hit currently showing, but her next goal is to be the lead in a serious play written by Helena’s gay grandson Jake (Jon Robin Baitz). Its director is Ivan (Andre Gregory), whom she flatters and cleverly manipulates in an attempt to land the role. Oona’s ambitions reflect the film’s theme — if commercialism can mix with artistic integrity.

Jaglom offers some insights into how theater people think and how a family can be divided by tensions, as guests socialize, flirt, embarrassingly flatter each other, do sex, rattle on about art and culture, and mimic many of the thoughts that weigh on Jaglom’s fuzzy head. When Jaglom tries his hand at comedy, the film feels stiff. Also, none of the roles were fully realized and the plotless story was less than satisfying, as a result “Hamptons” wears out its welcome long before the weekend is over.