Summering loses its soul and never bothers to recover it.
This review of the film Summering does not contain spoilers.
There is something very off about James Ponsoldt’s latest film, Summering. There is nothing particularly vile, objectionable, or lurid regarding Ponsoldt’s script regarding imagery. The four main characters are sweet and different in their way.
However, when it comes to the overall plot, the film’s tone is mellow and whimsical. It does not adequately convey the gravity of the situation. The general hubris conveyed by the young women is alarming. As is how their parental guardians are oblivious to what is happening.
In Summering, we have four best friends starting their last summer together before heading to different high schools. Remember, this was their universe, and when you think back upon it, ours as well. You have Mari (Edan Grace Redfield), the group’s moral compass. She has an adorable relationship with her mother (played by Megan Mullally). Lola (Sanai Victoria) is the foursome’s social butterfly, and Dina (Madalen Mills) is the brainiac.
Then you have Daisy (Lia Barnett), whose mother (Lake Bell) is going through a tough time since Daisy’s father has left. On their first day, they travel to their make-shift Bridge to Terabithia, which they have set up under the raised highway, the girls find a dead body. A man in a suit appears to have jumped to his death.
Ponsoldt wrote the script, along with Benjamin Percy (predominantly known for writing Marvel comics) have attempted to make a female Stand by Me. Except, here, Summering is equipped without the redemption Rob Reiner’s film ultimately settles on. The overall tone is forced upon the film’s story that does not quite fit. This is a We the Animals hybrid of trying to tell a sweet and tender tale of female friendship, young and old and using a story mechanism of the dead to spark a story that goes nowhere and is stagnant.
The result is a film that is a prime example of script cognitive dissidence. None of the young women seemed bothered by the dead body and had no appreciation for human life. The script also delves into melodramatic subplots, and one of the children even fires a gun.
Yes, these are children and are still developing emotional maturity. However, a film like Ray Lawrence’s Jindabyne explores the ramifications and fallout of four middle-aged men who find a woman’s body floating in a river and delay the reporting to finish their fishing trip.
Summering would have benefited from the script exploring the consequences of their actions and the need for breaking away from the “magical” time of summer it set out to complete and return to a bit of reality. (The story really needed an enemy for the girls to have friction with). Without this, there are no themes of love and loss that make us all human and for the viewer to identify with.
Summering is a film with the wrong kind of message and lesson.
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