Breakup Season (2024)


Breakup Season Review

Relationships are hard and sometimes even harder to end. Breakup Season, the new indie feature from writer/director H. Nelson Tracey lays bare that there is never really a good time to say goodbye.

Just premiered at Desertscape International Film Festival in St. George, Utah, Breakup Season is a sweet and frank portrayal of a breakup and its immediate aftermath. The film centers on Ben (The Walking Dead’s Chandler Riggs) and Cassie (Captain Fantastic’s Samantha Isler) as they travel to Ben’s family home in rural Oregon for Christmas.

While the two seem to have a good relationship at first, it soon becomes apparent that Cassie feels differently about the relationship than Ben does. Misunderstandings both on-screen and alluded to throughout their relationship’s history come to a head when Cassie tells Ben she thinks they should break up and leaves the next day.

Unfortunately for Cassie, snowstorms and road closures keep her from being able to leave and she must spend the rest of the week of Christmas with her now ex-boyfriend and his family.

As the week goes on, Ben tries different ways to fix things and bring them closer together while Cassie only becomes more resolute. It’s a back-and-forth written with enough skill and humor so that neither party seems right or wrong, but rather two halves of an ended relationship.

But Breakup Season is not just about Cassie and Ben’s relationship. Tracey adeptly plays their struggles against the relationships around them for the week.

Also home for Christmas are Ben’s mother Mia (Brook Hogan) and father Kirby (James Urbaniak, Venture Bros, Oppenheimer), who have a loving relationship that stands in stark contrast with how far apart Ben and Cassie have grown. Here Hogan and Urbaniak give warm, soft performances — comforting their son while also being there for Cassie — as they talk in front of and interact with each other, Cassie and Ben see what’s similar and different about their relationship.

Having problems with their own romantic pasts and presents are Ben’s siblings — Liz (Carly Stewart) is in a relationship that feels stagnant, while older brother Gordon (Jacob Wysocki) is back home after his marriage fell apart. Their respective outlooks on love play tug of war on Ben and Cassie as the week’s events drive Ben to want to fix things and cause Cassie to want to pull further away.

The ensemble here is fantastic across the board. Riggs gives an emotionally raw performance as Ben, while Isler is great as Cassie. The real standout is Urbaniak, whose performance is as funny as it is tender and paternal; trying his best to help his kids through these tough moments of love and loss.

Two of the movie’s best scenes are quiet moments between Urbaniak and his on-screen kids — one where Kirby takes Ben for a walk to help him wrap his head around where he’s at in life, or another when Kirby shares some words with Gordon in the cold night air. Both find Urbaniak showing off his wit through a soft spoken conversation from a dad.

It’s possible that the film is most strong in writing. Tracey’s script enables these characters to wrestle with themselves and each other when usually they are forced into battling against their own nature by this genre. Life position and love conflicts, both inner and outer, provoke genuine emotional moments where people who seem so different find a common language.

This screenplay doesn’t make any character seem pre-packaged. Every single one of them feels so real that one never knows what will happen at the end of this movie. And everything is possible because Tracey has created such true-to-life personalities which appear on the screen breathing and living.

Sometimes while approaching the end of his story, Tracey fakes left to go right every time with each character being right for him. It moves smoothly towards its last touching scenes giving us an ending that is honest as well as hopeful like those from some good old-fashioned romantic comedies but also sad enough (500) Days of Summer or Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

After such powerful self-confident debut like Breakup Season it would be interesting to know what Tracey’s future films hold for us. This critic cannot wait for another one because if it’s even half as awesome we are up for a real treat!

Watch Breakup Season For Free On Gomovies.

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