Childhood is such a fleeting and specific time in our lives, where we grow, learn and discover ourselves and our place in the world. It’s no wonder that “coming of age” is one of the most popular narrative conventions, because growing up is inherently fraught with changes and developments that push us into a constant state of evolution. Summer, from writer-director James Ponsoldt and co-writer Benjamin Percy, attempts to capture the girl’s intangible transition into pre-adolescence – and in terms of mood, their efforts are mostly successful. However, once the end credits and all mishaps are resolved, it is difficult to determine exactly what Ponsoldt and Percy were trying to communicate through this exercise, as the frayed threads of their narrative feel less like a slice of life examined than to a thought experiment that never came to a satisfactory conclusion.
As the last days of summer approach and the specter of college looms, four girls spend their days in each other’s company in their town. On their last weekend of freedom from academia, they trek through the forest to their friendship’s communal shrine, a small tree adorned with memories of their time together nicknamed “Terabithia”. However, this expedition does not go as usual, because at the foot of the overhanging bridge, they discover the corpse of a man in a suit. Rather than report the body to the police, they agree to find out who this dead stranger is and find out what happened to him.
But drawing on an obvious point of comparison, support me, is largely superficial as the focus remains on how this new mystery catalyzes the band’s latest summer adventure. As a mood piece, the essence of childhood curiosity and half-conscious disregard for consequences is captured quite effectively, albeit with some inconsistency in the dialogue that oscillates between tight script and chatter. overlapping naturalist. It all sounds like girls audience members might have known growing up, whether it’s Dina (Madalen Mills) trying to bring scientific rationality into every conversation, Lola (Sanai Victoria) arguing with equal vigor for more answers. supernatural spiritual ones, Mari (Eden Grace Redfield) constantly worrying about parenting consequences, or Daisy (Lia Barnett) dealing with the impact of her father’s disappearance on her and her mother.
But as long as these girls feel fully realized, Summer doesn’t seem to have much of an opinion on what this last summer weekend means to them, beyond the sense of adventure injected by their investigation. Learning about life from their pet corpse paints a dire and depressing portrait of adulthood that literally and figuratively haunts the girls as a faceless ghost appears in their individual imaginations. Yet the seriousness of one man’s disappearance is not just overshadowed by the girls’ half-formed understanding of mortality, but by the film itself, as Ponsoldt disposes with any meaningful resolution to the mystery that has dominated their sunday. This is clearly intentional, as the childish quest evaporates in the final days of summer, but it also raises the question of what we’re meant to get out of these characters’ true maturity.
Ponsoldt and Percy seem to have tried a few different ideas on how to turn their vague notion of friendship between young women into a workable scenario, but those thoughts are almost all half-formed as they force structure onto a resilient narrative. For a brief moment, the parallel plot of the girls’ mothers (Lake Bell, Sarah Cooper, Ashley Madekwe and Megan Mullally) stalking their wayward daughters provides a grown-up contrast to the film’s otherwise childish perspective, but these scenes exist primarily to allow Mullally vampirize. Admittedly, the film’s intermittent humor provides some welcome moments of levity, but that only reinforces the film’s overall sense of incoherence.
The third act randomly elects Daisy as the de facto protagonist whose internal conflicts get explicit resolution, and while these scenes affect in isolation, they would have been better served in a fully-fledged movie. on Daisy instead of being part of her group of friends. And finally that’s what feels so hollow Summer: the four tracks are archetypically interesting, but they serve a story about the value of the young female community of which the two cisgender male authors have no direct experience. It’s a film about friendship that has little on its mind beyond the intrinsic value of that friendship, but it never questions the value of that friendship. And for all the film’s peripheral commentary on aging and mortality, there’s never a climax to bring these themes into focus. Summer may be an airy little trip through the nostalgia of youth, but its stabs at a deeper meaning are woefully immature.