By Amanda Gilmore
James Ponsoldt’s latest Feature follows four best friends, Daisy (Lia Barnett), Mari (Eden Grace Red Field), Dina (Madalen Mills) and Lola (Sanai Victoria) on the last weekend of summer before entering middle school. When they arrive at their secret spot in the woods to lay trinkets from their summer together, they find a dead body. They spend the next day finding out who he was and what happened to him.
There’s a lot to love about Summering. It’s a touching examination of childhood friendship and the fear of growing up. This is expressed beautifully through the four young girls who share strong chemistry. It’s fun to watch them wandering through their town talking freely about the world around them.
The Film is at its best when focused on the family lives of these four girls, particularly in the relationships they share with their mothers. The scenes within their homes are poignant and at times heartbreaking. Daisy’s home life is one that stands out. Her father left a year ago resulting in her mother (played by Lake Bell) struggling with daily tasks. These moments are impactful, but sadly we don’t get enough of them.
The main focus in Summering is about the children finding the body and their quest to know more about him. It’s a shocking and dark storyline for a film about children which results in the young characters experiencing emotional and mental distress. Ponsoldt and Co-writer Benjamin Percy show this by adding a paranormal element of the girls seeing the ghost of the man. However, we only scratch the surface of their distress.
Summering screens virtually at Sundance:
Premiere: Jan. 22 at 7PM EST
Second Screening: Jan. 24 at 10AM EST (available for 24hrs)