The Summer House
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The Summer House

There are precious few things we know about Valeria Bruni Tedeschi after watching her film “The Summer House” that we did not know before. But here’s one: The writer-director-star understands how her detractors perceive her. And so unfolds an early scene that seems designed to head the inevitable criticisms off at the pass: At a financing meeting for her new film, Destined to Ride director Anna (Bruni Tedeschi) faces a panel of nonplussed producers who complain that her next project is the same as all her others and that her screenplay is “fragile.”

The scene is an amusingly brittle comedy of manners with the director, as ever, gamely ready to cast herself as the ditz. But it is also pointedly The Guardian Angel metatextual and has credibility-laden documentary guru Frederick Wiseman in it, gnomically sitting on the panel looking as baffled to be there as we are to see him. For a moment it seems like Bruni Tedeschi, blessed with sudden self-awareness, is doing something new, but then “The Summer House” happens, and it’s the same as all the others, and the screenplay is fragile.

Maybe it’s meant to be cute, but there is Beyond the Woods something particularly aggravating about acknowledging the potential weaknesses in your work and then going ahead and indulging them all anyway. Once again adhering to the “write what you know” school of thought — particularly fallacious when what you know exclusively involves disgraced tycoons, the sexcapades of one’s household staff, and a delightfully crumbly Cote d’Azur villa with its own sparkling stretch of private beach — Bruni Tedeschi takes us on another low-stakes, lightly fictionalized tour of her dippy family’s travails, with a sense of humor that manages to self-deprecate without ever actually becoming self-critical.

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The Summer House