TIFF 2018: Our Review of ‘Summer Survivors’

TIFF 2018: Our Review of ‘Summer Survivors’

Marija Kavtaradze’s first full length feature Summer Survivors is like many movies. On the surface it’s a road dramedy but it’s really a social issues movie in disguise, which is fine. There are some problems with framing characters like Paulius (Paulius Markevicius) and Juste (Gelmine Glemzaite). He’s bipolar and she’s suicidal, and there are a lot of close ups of their twitching hands and feet. The camera, however, doesn’t give the same treatment to the person in charge of them, Indre (Indre Patkauskaite).

What I do find interesting is what the actors do. Some have the same names as their characters in the movies they make. This normalizes their characters, which is important in a movie about mental illness. There’s also something very shoestring and cute about it. Anyway Indre, a graduate student, has to drive Paulius and Juste from Vilnius, Lithuania to Palanga. That drive should take hours but God laughs when people make plans. One kerfuffle includes Indre leaving a nurse at a rest stop.

Summer Survivors is not the most empathetic film towards Indre. It shows how she’s way in over her head at a job she doesn’t even want. But it doesn’t oversell those mishaps the same way some comedies do. And if anything, her characters flaws change the power dynamic on the road. The same goes between neuro typical people like Indre and neuro atypical people like Paulius and Juste. Kavataradze also uses the film’s downtime well, eventually lending a sensitive eye towards her characters.

 

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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