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film reel image

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Girls of Summer 2020 * * 1/2 Stars


"Are you guys still looking for a drummer?" So says the persona of Maren Taylor (Tori Titmas) in 2020's The Girls of Summer. "Summer" is a sort of musical drama and yup, it's my latest review.

Anyhow, The Girls of Summer is like a small scale version of A Star is Born. As something about a female musician who tries to make it big instead of tending to her father's farm, "Summer" is more a celebration of great country music performances as opposed to a true, feature-length film.

So OK, The Girls of Summer was nevertheless a surreal movie experience for me. Why? Because my hometown of St. Joseph, Michigan was featured as a locale. "Summer's" director (John D. Hancock) picks up right where he left off after 2015's The Looking Glass. An Indiana resident with a vast directorial resume, Hancock creates another solemn slice of Middle Americana.

That being said, the film is still choppily edited while it cuts a few corners. For instance, Taylor's father Frank (played by Jeff Puckett) is a man who is sadly addicted to drugs and alcohol. Why then, does his character arc seem so minimal and left on the cutting room floor? Same goes for Maren Taylor's romantic tryst with a former band member (Luke Thomas played by Nathan Hosner). Their courtship feels rushed, glossed over, and barely fleshed out.

Romance begot, I liked a lot of the live songs featured on The Girls of Summer and I dug the fact that the area I grew up in was promoted in spades. Still, "Summer" is a vehicle where the camera just peeks in giving the audience a bare bones of a plot.

John D. Hancock's similar The Looking Glass remains one of my favorite flicks from the last five years. Here, he opts for less dramatic heft, some head-scratching closing credits shots, and a blase ending. Bottom line: Hancock comes up a little short as he "bangs the drum" too softly.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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