Directed By: David Berry
Starring: Grant Davis, Davi Santos, and Ben Baur
Young love is powerful. It leaves scars and helps to shape the people we eventually become. It can be empowering, crippling, and inspirational. Most people who fall in love in high school aren't able to make it a lasting love. We use those first feelings as guideposts of what we do and do not want. We discover who we are in those emotionally turbulent years and see hints of what we might become. For Ben (Grant Davis) and Tim (Davi Santos) exploring their feelings is made all the more difficult by geography. They live in a conservative Texas community where being gay is still seen as something to mock and be ashamed of.
SOMETHING LIKE SUMMER depicts Ben and Tim's relationship over the course of 12 years. It has ups and downs, like any relationship but only grows more complicated with time. At the start of the film, Ben is the only kid in his high school out of the closet. He has supportive parents but bullying from both peers and adults keep him from following his dream of becoming a singer. Despite having the courage to be openly gay in closet friendly society he lacks the confidence to sing in front of people. Tim is a popular athlete, from an affluent family who hides his sexual identity and his love of painting. Both young men are afraid of being vulnerable and find the confidence to explore who they are with each other.
Berry uses musical cues and adept camerawork to elevate his film above its small independent rooting. From the onset of the film, the camera moves in ways we rarely see in independent features. It shows a sense of confidence and skill level that most seasoned directors don't show let alone a first-time filmmaker. Using everything from 1940's style lighting to heighten a scene that takes place in a jazz club in Paris to making a roller blading accident look truly painful, Berry is a talented director with a strong visual style that supports and defines his storytelling.
While SOMETHING LIKE SUMMER is a strong visual piece the real power of the film is in its casting. All three of the leads give layered and nuanced performances that grow throughout the film. They all make subtle changes in the way they deliver dialogue and process emotion as their characters change. If you can listen to the way you talked in your 20's vs the way you talk in your 30's you might be surprised by how different you sound. Sure, your accent might sound the same but the way you annunciate and the words you choose are a reflection of where you are. God willing, you aren't in the same place in your 30's that you were in your 20's. It's a subtle but noticeable change that all the characters make over the course of the film.
Some critics have said SOMETHING LIKE SUMMER is a "gay LA LA LAND" and while both films are musicals about a relationship, I'm not sure it's the best comparison. One of the strongest things about SLS is how it tracks a relationship over a long period of time. I think LA LA LAND only takes place over the course of a year or so, with the exception of that last scene. SLS shows how we change and grow apart. It shows how we lose sight of who we once were while holding those around us to a memory of the people they no longer are. This is a beautiful film that will be playing this Saturday, July 15th at OUTFEST LA.
Tickets available: HERE