Nonetheless determined to have a good time, Grace and Asta (Nyobi Hendry) make the most of the woods surrounding the house by building a den (it’s pre-mobile and social media). To discover one day that a homeless person is sleeping there. Furious, they throw stones at him, which injures him in the head.
It’s an unpleasant surprise that he shows up at home, his wound treated by Asta’s mother, Kate (Rebecca Palmer). Who goes after him, asking him to stay. A move questioned by his friend Jenny (Fiona Gilles) visits him for a glass of wine and then offers to read Niamh’s Tarot, which is dismissed as nonsense by Sid (Zaqi Ismail) who now becomes his .
Written by Isobel Boyce and directed by Alice Millar, there’s a problem with this movie because it fails to get into a rhythm hinting at so much that never develops satisfactorily.
Yes, they all flow to Grace’s fragile mental state and the fact that she has to come to terms with the harshness of the approaching adult world. Which include changes to her body as well as the breakdown of her parents’ marriage.
But there’s also a lot hanging with Sid threatening to be some kind of peekaboo, tarot reading, with dead rabbits and signs on the walls, there are hints of the supernatural but not really being followed up properly though that the last section tries valiantly to save this element.
However, while the narrative and structure are fragile, the acting of the two young protagonists is anything but with Walter showing the pressures and confusion of a broken home and the truths about family life (his father being a coward and negligent) that are understandable at this age. Whereas Hendry, in a more upbeat role as a loyal friend, is entirely believable. And they bicker, which is good, that’s what friends do, and then make up. Grown-ups might not fare so well, with Mom being a stereotypical new-age dude who smokes pot with his tarot-playing friend.
All of this is a promising start from Millar with beautiful photographs capturing the soft summer light through the woods.
Summer In The Shade will be available on digital platforms from June 20, 2022