In a recent flurry of teen Netflix films, it’s easy to become shrouded in the drama, social media use, and relationships representative of the genre. However, The Last Summer, Netflix’s most recently released teenage film, dropped on Friday, May 3, and offers a fresh take on the challenges of young adulthood sans the cliché high school drama depicted in many teen films. It tackles the lives of graduated high school seniors who are uncertain of what the future holds. The film is great in the sense that it highlights the summer before college and the inevitable major transition into choices, adulthood, freedoms, and responsibilities.
The Last Summer is divided into four mini-stories consisting of two protagonists each, yet they all deal with the last summer before college in Chicago, Illinois. Each of the eight main protagonists vows to spend that last summer living it up and creating unforgettable memories and enjoyable moments.
One duo for the mini-stories is Foster and Alec, who are busy working at an asphalt gig while trying to pursue romance. Another is Chad and Reece, who take up being fake businessmen to gain some respect and attention. The next is Erin and Audrey, in which Erin seeks to understand her breakup with Alec while starting a new romance with a Chicago Cubs player, and Audrey, who is a summertime personal assistant for a lady while contemplating about going to college. Finally, the film’s main protagonists are the artistically gifted Griffin and Phoebe, who happen to build the strongest relationship in the film.
Arts lovers Griffin and Phoebe have their paths intersect when Griffin takes part in Phoebe’s film project. The two have known of each other throughout their entire schooling, but they were simply peers. However, their shared passion for the arts, with Phoebe loving film-making, and Griffin loving music, leads into a blossoming summer friendship and eventual romance. Though Phoebe initially turns down Griffin’s request to hang out because of her film, the two frequently text, which leads the filmmaker to succumb and meet Griffin in person. The impact the two have on each other is evident when Griffin decides to pursue music in college instead of his father’s wishes of him pursuing business. In addition, a BBQ eating contest is evident of the overall rapport and bond the duo has built.
As the summer heats up, each duo must deal with turbulence in their summer endeavors, and there is a realization that actions have consequences, especially when swimming in new waters. Each duo must deal with the hurdles thrown in their summer endeavors and work to conquer the first potholes on the road to adulthood.
The film is very relatable to high school and college students, but it also provides a “read between the lines" montage of lessons and themes that may not seem so obvious. The Netflix Original hits a bullseye in saying that it’s okay to be confused or stressed out about the future when being a young adult because nobody knows what the future holds. It’s fine to be lost because thinking about life in the future means you are too preoccupied to be living life today and you are missing out on the present. A central theme of the film revolves around life being about enjoying the moment, and because the future remains murky, acting without any worries during the summer means you are wrapped in life itself. Summer is the moment to make impulse decisions and take chances so you can move forward without any regrets.
Throughout the schooling process, summer presents a time to make memories, like parties with music, fireworks, refreshments, and dancing, or sitting on the shores of a lake at night that offers a place to think or talk with only crickets chirping in the background. In both cases, you can simply take it all in and feel the breeze of the one big party that is life. Though it’s important to stay committed to hopes and dreams, whether during life right after high school or college, the journey to your personal success story consisting of those memorable summers is also unforgettable.
The Last Summer is a heartwarming teen film with more substance than drama. It also released at the best possible time, as many graduating high school and college seniors are about to embark on new journeys. Summer is a time to be outside in nature or partake in adventures with friends, and it can help you realize how sweet the world and life is, just like a milkshake on a sweltering late summer day.