Luring the last weekend of summer, Frank, an escaped prisoner and convicted for murder, forcing Adele and her son Henry to hide in them for a while. Very quickly, the relationship between the kidnapper and the young woman takes an unexpected turn. During these four days, they will be of heavy secrets and learn to love again… Adapted from the novel by Joyce Maynard, LAST DAYS OF SUMMER is a romantic drama as it is in fact less and less, or rather as it had promised not to do. Only, and against all odds, mayonnaise takes, and not a little ! Explanations.
To stage a love story has never been an easy thing. In addition to having the right players, it is necessary that the link between the characters is tangible, that the history of these last two is to be credible and that it is properly fed. In the film, as in real life, love stories are not what is most simple. So, when we decided to tell a little unlikely between a depressed mother and a prison escapee in New Hampshire 80, the chances of escape become almost non-existent. But this has not discouraged Jason Reitman, who, after the very good JUNO and YOUNG ADULT, proves once again that he is more than capable of understanding and representing this figure in the coming-of-age for its protagonists. From the top of its 36 years, the director is evidence of a master’s degree. In LAST DAYS OF SUMMER, he staged a dramatic course, a love story between a man and a woman in the past more than loaded. Slightly disturbing – or even downright creepy at times –, this relationship quickly becomes a devouring passion and life-saving. Although ephemeral, and worthy of a tv movie, the bond between Adele and Frank key, and surprises because it is told afterwards by Henry, the son of Adele. Omniscient narrator, his voice carries the film, and prevents the story from falling into the silliness, by instilling a good dose of tragic.
This dimension of the story is accentuated by mounting a very interesting, although sometimes confusing. Throughout the film, Jason Reitman has chosen to disseminate here and there, flashbacks are supposed to teach us more about the past of Frank, on what happened to him before his imprisonment. But still need to know that Tom Lipinski (PAN AM, MILDRED PIERCE), embodies a Frank young and not a Henry older. In short, at this stage of the stage, Jason Reitman was missed and we lost. But by chance, his director of photography, Eric Steelberg, has more than done its job well. In fact, rarely in the heat of the summer had been so well transcribed to the screen. It transpires a lot, it breathes hard and it is very sensual. But this falls well, the novel by Joyce Maynard – who has also been involved in the writing – explores in-depth the new experiences, the complexity of human relationships, the discovery of her sexuality and the transition to adulthood experienced by a 13 year old boy, Henry. All of these sensations are sublimated by the relevant dialogues (the aftershocks of the friend of the young Henry are excellent) and by the lyrical compositions of Rolfe Kent.
“Sometimes long, slow and extremely laborious, LAST DAYS OF SUMMER meets the objectives it had set for itself.”
For camping Adele and Frank, the producers of LAST DAYS OF SUMMER have picked Kate Winslet (TITANIC, THE READER) and Josh Brolin (GANGSTER SQUAD, OLD BOY). Dazzled by the first, we remain slightly sceptical of the interpretation of the second. In prisoner on the run, he excels, failing to make a credible love chilled. Both give consistency to the love story carry the film. No more, no less. But if there is a player on which you need to stop, it is, of course, Gattlin Griffith, who embodies Henry 13 years of age. Already seen in The EXCHANGE and THERAPY OF COUPLES, the actor of 15 years, plays fair, and serves as a guide for the viewer. Not very talkative, the actor manages to all make us feel through facial expressions in a simple, but properly worked. After LAST DAYS OF SUMMER, it was more than looking forward to the review on the screen as the game is fascinating. In addition, if there is one that has left us baffled (in the best sense of the term) throughout the film, it is Tom Lipinski. Although locked in a complex role, and without bouncing, and a silence imposed, the actor manages to intrigue us. Finally, we note the presence of Maika Monroe (seen in THE BLING RING), great in the role of the lover of the young Henry, and Tobey Maguire (BROTHERS, THE great GATSBY), rather good narrator is almost invisible.
While the aspect of historical drama is not necessarily very attractive, the classification of “romantic drama” might discourage more than one. Me the first. But that was before I saw LAST DAYS OF SUMMER. Sometimes long, slow and extremely time consuming (let’s say things as they are), the film of Jason Reitman meets the objectives it had set for itself right from the start : to be faithful to the novel by Joyce Maynard, to make credible the love story of Adele and Frank, not to make Henry a narrator stuck in a narrative that is perverse, making the outcome unpredictable and give us the desire of pie fishing. And it is in this that the LAST DAYS OF SUMMER is a frank success !
• Achievement : Jason Reitman
• Scenario : Joyce Maynard, Jason Reitman
• Main actors : Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Maika Monroe, Tom Lipinski
• Country of origin : United States
• Released : APRIL 30, 2014
• Duration : 1h52mn
• Distributor : Paramount Pictures France
• Synopsis : In Holton Mills, New Hampshire, Henry, a loner kid of 13 years old, spends his summer in front of the tv fantasizing about a girl from his class. But the day before Labour day (the first Monday in September), Henry comes to the aid of a mysterious man.