Rating – 8/10

“Age of Summer” is an indie flick that was recently screened at Sidewalk Film Fest in Birmingham. This movie is set in the 80’s and is focused on Minnesota, a young teen who recently moved to California and is training to be a lifeguard. We follow Minnesota through a wild and tumultuous summer, as he attempts to discover his own identity as he is rapidly growing up.

The first thing that viewers will notice is the cinematography. The opening shot of the film is so expertly framed and exposed that I was immediately filled with emotion, and the shots stay consistently superb throughout. The colors are vibrant, giving the movie an almost ethereal quality. The blues of the sky and the ocean, as well as the reds of the lifeguards’ gear pop so vividly, I never wanted to look away from the screen. The framing of each shot is nearly perfect; every frame drips with such an attention to detail that you can almost feel how much work went into each scene.

Nearly every actor in “Age of Summer” I did not recognize, with the exceptions of Peter Stormare, who is fantastic (as always) and plays exactly the kind of character you would expect Stormare to play, and Jake Ryan, whom I have only seen in “Eighth Grade” earlier this year. Assuming that a lot of surfers were cast in this movie, everyone else’s performances range from great to serviceable, but the movie does not suffer for it. A good bit of the comedy here is found in the actors’ delivery, and they should be commended for that. The story also manages to subvert several tropes that other coming-of-age movies fall into, and provides a nuanced and mature perspective on friendship and growing up.

“Age of Summer” is not without its flaws, however. The movie occasionally fills in exposition with narration from an older Minnesota, reminiscing on the film’s events. This is certainly a personal opinion, but I dislike when films rely on narration to convey pieces of exposition. Also, as much as it manages to avoid many of the cliches common with similar movies of the genre, “Age of Summer” still manages to include a couple of stereotypes and contrived situations that you’ve definitely seen before.

These small gripes do not detract from the overall movie, however. “Age of Summer” is funny, insightful, and, at times, intensely emotional. The Pacific Ocean is portrayed in such a way that makes you feel like it’s a character in and of itself, and will give everyone strong urges to take the week off and go to the beach. The scenes involving surfing are exciting and serene at the same time, and made me seriously consider taking up surfing the next time I go to the coast. It will be difficult to find a movie as beautiful, humorous, and charming as “Age of Summer”, and if it manages to make it to your local theater, I couldn’t recommend it more.