In the Summers (2024)


In the Summers Review

Between parents and their children, memories become battlefields. Certain experiences are disputed and accusations are hurled at one another. It’s into this hostile environment that Alessandra Lacorazza positions her understated debut feature In the Summers. A visual poem composed of four stanzas, it is about what a man shares with his daughters.

It’s summertime when Violeta (Dreya Renae Castillo) and Eva (Luciana Quinonez) come to Las Cruces, New Mexico to see their father, Vincente (René Pérez Joglar). The first visit — in a parking lot outside of the minuscule town’s airport — drips with the kind of awkwardness born from separation. We don’t know why Vincente hasn’t seen his kids; Lacorazza also wrote the script, which doesn’t specify much, but through their conversations in both Spanish and English we gather some information. We know it’s been a while — so long that Vincente can’t remember what grade they just finished or other milestones like that.

Each summer, Violeta and Eva grow further apart — but I still love seeing that same shot of them waiting at the airport every few years. Violeta doesn’t need Vincente’s attention like Eva does; she never has. In this second summer, it’s Camila (Gabriella Elizabeth Surodjawan), a girl her father tutors for extra money that has her wrapped up. She wonders if the curly-haired New Mexico native has a boyfriend or if she even stands a chance. Still, Vincente only loves his eldest — so Eva spends all season longing for her father to look at her with those soft eyes. At one point, he snarlingly demands why Eva can’t be smart like her sister.

Allison Salinas captivates as teenage Eva post-trauma during Summer Two; we see her come alone to New Mexico for number three through blurry shots of the rearview mirror. And these are hard months for her, where parents most deeply bruise their children. Pain is projected through Salinas’ eyes, which slightly tear up when Vincente directs his cruelty toward her.

By now we know that Vincente is an alcoholic — angry because he can’t find work and scared because he’s never been enough. So knows Eva, who spends most of Summer Three roaming Las Crucas by herself or helping care for her father’s new wife (Leslie Grace)’s newborn baby while Dad sleeps off last night’s drinks in the room next door. The house falls into disrepair around these disappointments: leaves clog the pool after each reunion between father and child; the porch becomes cluttered with dust and sunlight; beer bottles accumulate on every surface.

In the Summers ends with its least assured fourth chapter yet — one that seems to go by more quickly than it should have. It takes place when both Violeta (Mutt star Lio Mehiel) and Eva (Sasha Calle) are adults and have returned to New Mexico. Violeta is moving here after the summer, starting grad school; she’s transitioned now. Eva’s fate is less clear, but from the sunglasses she refuses to take off, you can tell that lonely Las Crucas summer broke something in her for good. Vincente is different, too: no alcohol in the house this year; an emptied pool resurrected by love and chlorine; a shy smile around his kids.

But he tries to make it all up with stubborn invitation — so both Violeta and Eva keep strong boundaries with their father. They rent a place instead of staying at his house — which is falling apart enough as it is — and politeness strains stiff between them whenever they’re around him. Natalia (Indigo Montez), Vincente’s other child, shows us who he used to be compared to who he is now. Some storylines fall flat in this section — like adult-Violeta-and-Camila (now played by Sharlene Cruz)’s.

Still, when Lacorazza narrows in on Violeta-Eva-Vincente relationships, In the Summers stays steady. Here, Lacorazza wonders if healing might be more about moving forward than letting go — or if maybe forgiveness has always just been an illusion we create so we don’t have to try so hard at either one?

Watch In the Summers For Free On Gomovies.

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