Sundance 2022 Review: “Summering”

Year: 2022

Runtime: 87 minutes

Director: James Ponsoldt

Writers: Benjamin Percy and James Ponsoldt

Stars: Lia Barnett, Madalen Mills, Eden Grace Redfield, Sanai Victoria, Lake Bell, Sarah Cooper, Ashley Madekwe, Megan Mullally

By Morgan Roberts

“Summering”(2022) follows four friends – Daisy (Lia Barnett), Dina (Madalen Mills), Mari (Eden Grace Redfield), and Lola (Sanai Victoria) – as they spend their final weekend of summer vacation together before going off to middle school.  The girls all have different anxieties about going to this next stage while also trying to grapple with some of their very grown up issues.  The girls then go throughout the town on a mysterious misadventure after discovering something dark and sinister at their usual hangout spot.  

It is difficult to write about the film because very little happens in it.  Much of it is stringed together by a very odd and slightly disturbing story to have for a group of 11 year olds.  The film cannot quite decide if it is a full coming-of-age piece or a thriller.  The tonal shifts from drama to thriller to comedy are hard shifts with nothing feeling particularly seamless.

It is a shame that structurally, the film is everywhere because the performances, when given some direction, are a treat.  The four girls are clearly enjoying themselves and really hold their own with the actors portraying their parents.  Of the parents, Megan Mullally is particularly charming and funny.  Playing a bit of an overprotective parent, Mullally is hilarious and endearing.

“Summering” is the latest film from indie director James Ponsoldt.  Ponsoldt is best known for his films “Smashed” (2012) and “The Spectacular Now” (2013).  “Summering” does not hold the same weight as some of his previous films but there are glimpses of the magnetism of his previous work.

While “Summering” is a bit confused tonally and subject-wise, when looking past some of the white noise, you get a charming film about friendship, loss, and growing up.


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