Netflix original “The Last Summer” follows the lives of eight teens after high school graduation, who use their final days before leaving home to party, explore new romance, work and prepare for what comes next. The film opens with narration by Griffin, talking about how the summer before college is filled with “last chances.” This theme is carried throughout the film as the characters are forced to make hard decisions, such as ending relationships, dealing with family issues, and figuring out what to do with their future, knowing their time home is slipping away.
The cast for this movie is packed with familiar faces rising in the industry. KJ Apa plays Griffin, the musician who can’t pursue his dreams due to his overbearing father and being the epitome of the classic boy next door. Apa is known for his role as Archie Andrews in the CW show, “Riverdale.” Griffin’s love interest, Phoebe, is played by Maia Mitchell, also known as Callie Foster from the Freeform show, “The Fosters.” Phoebe is the mysterious artistic girl who’s making a film about the future after graduation. Erin, the hardworking intern and center of this story’s love triangle, is played by Halston Sage. Sage also plays Alara in the Fox show, “The Orville.”
Erin’s boyfriend of two years is Alec (Jacob Latimore). He owns his own driveway asphalt business and works for extra cash during the summer. Foster (Wolfgang Novogratz), Alec’s best friend and coworker, is the basic tool type who only cares about hooking up with cute girls. Reece (Mario Revolori) and Chad (Jacob McCarthy) are stereotypical “nerd” characters who accidentally convince a waitress that they’re adult, Chicago businessmen.
While many of these actors and actresses play typical character roles they’re normally seen in, Sosie Bacon’s role as Audrey was a fresh take on her usual performance. Bacon is known for her more serious and dark role as Skye Miller on the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why”, but as Audrey she plays the sassy best friend who provides many snarky remarks to introduce comic relief. She’s struggling to get into college and deal with her summer job as a personal assistant to an aggravating boss.
In the beginning scenes of “The Last Summer,” each of the characters makes a decision that determines how the rest of their summer will pan out. Erin and Alec break up and start new relationships with characters Paige (Gage Golightly) and Ricky (Tyler Posey). Reece and Chad begin dating older women they’ve met at the bar. Griffin decides to pursue Phoebe, Foster creates a “hook-up list” filled with multiple girls and Audrey becomes a personal assistant for a single mom.
What follows is a few too many too-good-to-be-true moments, cheesy romance, funny bits and dramatic heart-to-hearts. The characters learn lessons about family, complicated relationships, owning up to their mistakes, telling the truth, following their dreams and that relationships aren’t everything.
Due to the intersecting plot lines, the film doesn’t give enough time for each story to be fully developed, but for the most part, there’s still a clear beginning, conflict and resolution. Most of the screen time is given to the development of Griffin and Phoebe’s relationship, making them the most complex characters. Since much of the plot is focused on her relationships, Erin is an underdeveloped character — the audience can’t get a clear feel for her. She’s an intern going to Northwestern, but other than that, most of what’s seen from her is her dating life. Alec is also a very lacking character. He has a job and is dating Paige, but has no clear personality traits.
The cinematography for this film was very well done. The daylight scenes have a soft lighting that adds to the film’s summertime aesthetic, while the night scenes use colored lights with a good deal of light flares to give a more romantic vibe. The Soundtrack is filled with upbeat pop songs that add to the film’s atmosphere. Wedged between all of the drama are humorous scenes that give a lighthearted feel to the storyline.
With all of the intertwining narratives, the audience is kept interested and their are few dull moments. The film does a good job of flashing back and forth through all of the characters lives and evenly distributing their screen time. The movie offers hook-ups, break-ups, make-ups, firing, fireworks, cheating scandals, viral lists, internships, romantic dates, fights, heartbreak and plenty of teen angst.
“The Last Summer” has a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes and is another run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. However, with just enough balance of meaningful and unsubstantial, it tells an interesting story with heartwarming lessons while not making its audiences think too much. It’s a feel-good movie perfect for when someone wants something cheesy and cute to distract them from a bad day.
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