Lingering close-ups of dew-drizzled scenery set the tempo for this love story based among the sports fields and milkshake shacks of small-town Arkansas.
Luke and Jonah are two high-school sweethearts who are about to be separated as the academically-gifted Jonah prepares to leave for college while the sportier but less academic Luke has to stay behind to retake his exams. Last Summer provides snapshots of their final few weeks spent taking bike rides and going for burgers as their inevitable separation comes ever closer.
Dialogue is sparse and action is limited as director Mark Thiedeman plumps for slow, pensive shots of rural imagery while Luke and Jonah’s almost silent relationship shows the difficulties they have discussing the fact they will soon be separated.
The film is refreshing in that it shows two boyfriends who are perfectly happy with each other and whose relationship has the support of their parents; the threat in this story comes not from families who have difficulty accepting a young gay relationship, but from the inexorable unfolding of time which will force them apart. One hopes that as societies become more open-minded, more LGBT films will depict stories of young gay or lesbian couples that aren’t characterised by the hurdle of parental disapproval.
Last Summer suffers from a sparse storyline which will make it too slow for many, but Thiedeman’s moody camerawork gives the film a lyrical quality that perfectly captures the sadness of a season about to end.