Thursday, June 13, 2024

“WINTER SPRING SUMMER OR FALL”

THE STORY – Following a chance encounter, wunderkind Remy and music-obsessed slacker Barnes become inexorably entwined in each other’s lives. As winter turns to spring and spring turns to summer, the two find themselves falling in love. But with Remy heading to Harvard in the fall, the young couple are forced to reevaluate what’s truly important to them.

THE CAST – Jenna Ortega, Percy Hynes-White, Marisol Nichols, Adam Rodriguez, Elias Kacavas & Evangeline Barrosse

THE TEAM – Tiffany Paulsen (Director) & Dan Schoffer (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 97 Minutes


So much change occurs within the 18th year of life. Yes, standardized exams are over, but school itself isn’t. There’s still senior year, but now there are college applications, asking for letters of recommendation, and beefing up one’s resume. Then comes the time to pick a college and its subsequent major or track for what you want to do for the rest of your life. Following that comes the longest goodbye: the goodbye to childhood friends, the childhood home, and childhood and adolescence altogether. It’s the first Big Change of a person’s life; over the course of these 12 months, everything that has always been slowly, yet suddenly, isn’t. It’s a ripe timeframe for drama.

“Winter Spring Summer or Fall” finds itself operating within this exact space. It opens with Barnes (Percy Hynes White) hanging out on the roof of his friend’s house and catching a glimpse of his neighbor, Remi (Jenna Ortega). He asks his friend about her and finds out she is the class genius with a perfect SAT score and a 4.0 GPA, and she has already completed an internship at Google. Barnes exhales slowly, figuring out that the two of them probably have nothing in common, but when they find themselves on the same Amtrak to New York City, he shoots his shot.

The film, directed by Tiffany Paulson in her feature film debut, follows the two characters across a year, spending time with them for one day in each season in the order of the title. For Winter, Remi is touring colleges with a firm 20-year plan that she is about to set into motion, whereas Barners is insisting on taking a gap year. For Spring, it’s the night of senior prom. Summer occurs during the 4th of July, and Fall places us on the first night of Halloweekend. Over these four days/year, the audience follows Remi and Barnes as they fall in and out of love and adjust to the pressure that transpires with coming-of-age.

The concept of the film’s structure is intriguing, but it may not have been used to the fullest effect. Due to the film taking place over four specific days, the screenplay has to be the strongest element, as the film is constantly moving and adjusting character motivations and relations off-camera – but that’s not the case. Penned by Dan Schoffer, the screenplay is often generic and rigid, resulting in many one-dimensional line deliveries. This is mainly felt when the scenes consist of other characters besides Remi or Barnes, as the supporting characters have little character arcs or purpose in the film itself. They exist simply to move the protagonists towards a conflict of drama or a new location in the film. Additionally, the supporting players, like Remi’s parents (Adam Rodriguez and Marisol Nichols), Barnes’ friend (Elias Kacavas), and others, have little screen time in their respective vignettes. So, they are mainly used to establish the new relationship dynamics at the beginning of each respective season and provide small talk before the lovers eventually encounter each other.

However, when the film consists of just Barnes and Remi, it works well as a modern-day Gen Z “Before Trilogy.” White plays Barnes nicely with an easy-going demeanor that is optimistic yet quietly overwhelmed by his impending adulthood, while Ortega is vibrant as the overachiever who is not 100% sure if she actively wants to accomplish the goals she (or her parents) has set for herself. The two actors have a warming chemistry that allows for a slow yet comforting build-up as the characters get to know each other while also being able to provide the believable romance and angst that comes in the later acts. Even with an obvious screenplay that leaves little to interpretation, White and Ortega showcase the nervous giddiness of first attraction, the fun of flirtation, and the unsettling apprehension that their adolescence is about to end and what once didn’t matter at all is now a deciding factor, incredibly well. It feels like one is observing two teens fall in love for the first time, as one feels every beautiful and rough emotion that comes with first love.

“Winter Spring Summer or Fall” stands out as a unique coming-of-age story, primarily due to the strength of its two leads. When Paulson allows the film to focus on the love story at hand, it successfully meets all the requirements of a well-told teen romance. The characters are each other’s right person at the wrong time, each other’s right person at the right time, and each other’s right person at the wrong time again. This dynamic, which is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, captures the essence of first love. It’s a narrative that is sure to intrigue and engage the audience.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White have sweet and appealing chemistry that allows you to root for both characters throughout the ebbs and flows of their characters' relationship.

THE BAD - The screenplay is rigid and blunt in its exposition and themes, resulting in one-dimensional line delivery. This is mostly felt with the supporting players, who only exist to move the lovers from scene to scene.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Lauren LaMagna
Lauren LaMagnahttps://nextbestpicture.com
Assistant arts editor at Daily Collegian. Film & TV copy editor.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White have sweet and appealing chemistry that allows you to root for both characters throughout the ebbs and flows of their characters' relationship.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The screenplay is rigid and blunt in its exposition and themes, resulting in one-dimensional line delivery. This is mostly felt with the supporting players, who only exist to move the lovers from scene to scene.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"WINTER SPRING SUMMER OR FALL"