BY AMANDA CLARKE
Like a lazy summer day, Last Summer exhibits an air of relaxing calm. The opening moments are abstract images, pulling you into the small town life. Nothing is rushed as the warm wash of the sun bathes the scene in a golden glow. It is the perfect image of summer, peaceful and tranquil. This is the relationship between Luke and Jonas. Inseparable since they were small, their friendship has blossomed into a deep and steadfast love. It is beyond passion. It solidifies them and keeps them grounded and safe. As Jonas prepares to leave their southern town for bigger things, he spends every available second in Luke’s company. Faced with separation, they savour every remaining moment, hold it, cherish it, never letting it go.
Bathed in natural light, Last Summer focuses on moments of simple pleasures. Closeups of clasped and caressing hands, intertwined feet at the bottom of the bed and mouths enjoying a juicy burger are the focus punctuated with moments of quiet contemplation as Jonas and Luke ponder what the future holds for them individually and collectively. Director Mark Thiedeman has infused the film with a poetry and lyricism through the editing that makes a static film come to life. Time is taken to revel in the beauty of a man’s back, the path of a preying mantis across a car windshield, the intricacies of chipped paint on an old car.
Complex in its simplicity, Last Summer explores the purest form of love. One that places the other above the self, that revels in the accomplishments of others and is amazed by their very existence, that isn’t afraid to just be. Thiedeman has captured this feeling of complete security and certainty in another person. Even the melancholy as the boys move closer to Jonas’ inevitable departure can’t shake the feeling that they are both completely at peace when they are together. Nothing, not even the prospect of losing each other, can disrupt the tranquillity that is created by their own private world. Separately they contemplate the future and wonder about being left behind by the other, but together in the last lazy days of summer, they simply exist in the now and are content to do so. And it is a wonderful place to be.
Toronto’s Inside Out Film Festival runs from May 22 – June 1. Read more Inside Out coverage.