Directed by Carlos López Estrada
Written by Paolina Acuña-Gonzáes, Jason Alvarez, Austin Antoine,
Starring Austin Antoine, Marquesha Babers, Bryce Banks, Bene’t Benton, Amaya Blankenship, Walter Finnie Jr., Gordon Ip, Maia Mayor, Anna Osuna, Sun Park, Tyris Winter
Culling inspiration from classic Hollywood film stories, hip auteur Carlos López Estrada brings his vibe to the steamy mecca that is Los Angeles. More importantly, he finds the soul of the city and those that inhabit its sprawling lands amidst the concrete jungles in 25 young Angelinos, and they sing, rap, tag, and talk their way through their day.
Exasperation with pain inflicted on these individuals drive their inspired works of art as Estrada (“Blindspotting”) keeps the camera flowing from one set of intersecting characters to another. Though the film is fiction, the subjects in the film are real, giving it a quasi-documentary feel to the story.
Premiering before the Pandemic at Sundance, the film received a limited release on July 9th and expands this weekend.
When you are so paralyzed with emotional pain or guilt, you are hard-pressed to find a way to communicate your frustrations. This happens to all of us. The message in “Summertime” is to find an outlet to convey your emotions and not keep them bottled up.
Estrada finds this voice through his subjects: a young gay man who was pushed away from his family life because of who he is; a woman with everything going for her, stuck on a moment in which mental pain was inflicted upon her and no way to express herself; two rappers looking to make it big, only to realize the harsh realities that ‘making it’ can have on your life; an 18-year-old who seeks her independence from a seemingly overbearing mother; a 22-year-old trapped in her own bubble whose loose grandmother teaches her a thing or two; a cook who is tired of being abused when the customer doesn’t get what he wants; a limo driver finding solace in even the simplest of moments.
That’s the heart of “Summertime,” the essence of a moment shared with others. I could be cliché and say, “it’s okay to stop and smell the roses,” but Estrada reminds us that even when the roses are in bloom, we find our moments in others.
“Summertime” was such a breath of fresh air that I almost forgot to breathe because his camera just constantly moves, creating a collage of intersecting lives in a town that already has a vibrancy, uncertainty guiding its course.
Sure, some of the interconnecting pieces seem less important than the actual humans on the screen, telling their stories. Yet, these people might never have come together without this web, even in the City of Angels.
I left “Summertime” thinking that Estrada should have helmed “In the Heights.” This review isn’t about questioning Jon M. Chu’s direction, but the flow Estrada achieved felt like an excellent pairing with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sensibilities.
Estrada reminds us of the power of a simple moment, the power of time shared. The rhythm, the rhyme, the soul of Los Angeles in the “Summertime.” It’s fun; it’s heartbreak.
“Summertime” is Highly Recommended.
95 minutes, R, Good Deed Entertainment