Directed by: James Ponsoldt
Premise: In the dog days of summer, a group of teenage girls discover a corpse. They try to identify the body while distracting their parents from their mission.
What Works: Summering is well shot by cinematographer Greta Zozula and a few sequences are impressively edited by Darrin Navarro. The filmmakers capture the hazy humidity of late summer and at times the movie takes on a dreamy quality. Summering is an idealization of childhood and the look of the picture simulates the way adults remember preteen summer vacation. The film also has some interesting transitions and a few surrealistic images that give the movie a unique texture. Summering is a well-intentioned movie. It is about childhood friends on the cusp of adolescence and its imminent complications. There are a few great individual moments in Summering in which the girls get up to mischief or quietly bond with each other.
What Doesn’t: Summering has a lot of problems but the film’s fatal flaw is that so little of it is believable. The narrative is set in the present day but Summering often feels like a story of an earlier era. These girls don’t speak like contemporary teenagers. Instead, they talk like a middle-aged screenwriter waxing nostalgic about his childhood. The girls find a corpse but they don’t call the police and instead try to solve the mystery of his death. That mission leads them all over town apparently on foot. Only one of the four girls has a cell phone and the technologically savvy one of them knows how to surf the dark web but she didn’t think to use private browsing on her laptop. The girls break into a school to get access to the internet; all the lights are on, none of the security gates are locked, and they access a school computer without even having to login.The girl’s investigation ultimately leads nowhere and that is another of Summering’s problems. Nothing comes together. The filmmakers steal the Stand By Me concept of young people finding a corpse but don’t use it in a meaningful way. The girls don’t discover anything interesting about the dead man and their investigation is dropped without coming to any resolution or revelation. The girls’ parents realize their daughters are up to something but their worries come to nothing. As a story about friendship, the girls’ relationship is never tested. The story has no conflict or crisis. It is just a bunch of random events, resulting in a film that is flat and superficial.
Bottom Line: Summering is a hollow imitation of superior coming-of-age dramas like Stand By Me and The Kings of Summer. The young actors are promising and the film has some impressive technical craft but the story is half-assed at every turn.
Episode: #914 (August 21, 2022)