New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review Of ‘End of Summer’

New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review Of ‘End of Summer’

Sometimes it’s not just children who need to grow up. Director Quan Zhou’s growing up tale, End of Summer, takes us back to 1998 and explores a young boy’s world as he copes with the distressed adults in his life.

We meet the film’s young lead, Gu (Zishan Rong), on the last day of school. Most kids are excited to spend their school break running wild with their friends, but not Gu. He must deal with one of childhood’s worst fates: Summer school. His demanding father (Songwen Zhang) is the school’s academic director and he brings his strict classroom structure home with him. Gu must complete his homework, give reports on the nightly news, and not waste his time playing soccer. With his mom (Zhuo Tan) busy at work and his dad preoccupied by his crush on a new teacher (Qing Dong), Gu sneaks off and trains with his neighbour (Pao-Ming Ku) in hopes of making his school’s soccer team.

There’s an authenticity at the heart of End of Summer that resonated with me. Childhood is a tumultuous time, even in the most stable, well-balanced homes. In the years before adolescence, kids become aware of the adult world before they’re equipped to deal with it. Gu is at that magical point in a child’s life when every day can be an adventure. But the pain, sadness, and frustration he picks up from the adults around him taint his childish sense of wonder. He’s sneaking peeks behind the veil that separates childhood and adulthood and he can’t cope with what he sees.

End of Summer is a solid film on every front. The movie looks like a million bucks, tells a compelling story, and features fine performances from top to bottom. It’s a thoughtful and entertaining addition to the NYAFF lineup.

This post was written by
Victor Stiff is a Toronto-based freelance writer and pop culture curator. Victor currently contributes insights, criticisms, and reviews to several online publications where he has extended coverage to the Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs, Toronto After Dark, Toronto ComiCon, and Fan Expo Canada. Victor has a soft spot in his heart for Tim Burton movies and his two poorly behaved beagles (but not in that order).
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