Something Like Summer, an adaption of Jay Bell’s young adult novel of the same name, follows the protagonist Benjamin Bentley as he journeys through life experiencing the joys, mishaps, and struggles of love and being out and openly gay. A combination of love, passion, and a hint of obsession evolve as Ben becomes more engrossed by the very attractive, yet in closet jock, Tim Wyman. Their first encounter in high school would serve as the basis for the rest of the film’s storyline. He falls quickly for Tim and fights to stay with him despite the societal, family, and life obstacles that await. However, their relationship is not meant to last in their early years. In a span of 12 years, the film depicts Ben’s struggle to find love, forget the past, and to move wholeheartedly forward with his life.
With a few coincidental encounters with Tim throughout the years, Ben is tested in ways that prove where his heart truly lies. Meeting a confident and handsome flight attendant, Jace Holden, both men have a chance to find love once again. Jace has his own story of love and pain so having these two men meet may have been the author’s way of depicting second chances or a life lesson. Ben and Jace’s relationship is put to the test when Tim is brought back into the picture. The lives of these three leading men illustrate the complexity of relationships, friendships, and love.
The film offers a unique twist to the popular gay adult novel with a touch of musical elements. Although not quite considered a musical, this adaption incorporates songs that feed into Ben’s emotional journey. As well as a form of transition from time to time, creating a smooth easy to follow storyline. Screenwriter Carlos Pedraza is to be accredited with incorporating musical elements to this adaptation with some background experiences with musicals. As well as film director David Berry’s experience with musicals, these two were a match made in heaven. The timing, cinematography, and song choice made an impact on the movie’s overall message. The author, screenwriter, and director make a dream team with each component complimenting each other well.
It’s refreshing to have a story like Something Like Summer depicted on screen. Giving a visual of a gay man’s trace through life and love establishes a sense of reality to the greater public. What makes this film adaption exciting and relatable is the level of realness that occurs. The typical high school love and/or obsession with an in-closet gay athlete and having to struggle with bullies. As the film opens, it’s a mirror reflection of what many gays have, at least once, experienced in their life. The “stalking” from a distance just to get a glimpse of the guy you like. The relative natural events that follow throughout the film forces the viewer to contemplate their own past/current experiences, whether it be relationship, friendship or family. The screenwriter smoothly weaves the 12 year span with reasonable life challenges; relocation, death, second chances, etc. With each new challenge, we the audience grow and mature too alongside Ben.
Including the dichotomy of family and friendships made this even more realistic. Not only do these leading men have to fight for love, family dynamics and support from friends add to the complexity of their journey. Screenwriter Pedraza and Director Berry perfectly weave in glimpses of family acceptance and rejection with the portrayal of Ben and Tim’s family. In addition to the screenwriter and director, it is the cast that truly brings light and life to the film. The genuine relationship in person contributes heavily to their successful portrayal on screen. This cast matched and performed beyond what was written in the screenplay bringing in their own personality and attitude to these characters. When it comes down to it, it is the actors that truly bring to life any character from script to screen and this cast’s execution was well on point.
This film captures and beautifully depicts the journey of young gay men trying to find themselves in the world. With the various components that life has to offer, Something Like Summer establishes the understanding, love, and courage it takes to truly live happily. This isn’t something easy nor does it happen overnight. One must venture through the world to establish who they really are and what they define as a happy ending.
Author Leka Ulupano