Netflix's Rom Com Comeback: The Last Summer

 

aia mitchell, summer

 

After following along with Netflix’s constant stream of teen romance movies, it seemed like they were heading for a dead end. Seeing the disappointing “The Perfect Date” with Noah Centineo reassured that Netflix had clearly been burnt out. But, there is hope after all. The company has recently been promoting their newly released coming of age movie, “The Last Summer.”

 

Despite my expectations being pretty low to start with, this movie actually did not disappoint. At first, the amalgamation of famous actors from KJ Apa to Maia Mitchell to Tyler Posey and Halston Sage seemed a bit random. However, the story, which focuses on multiple sets of characters individually, worked really well. Though it was mainly promoted based off the romance between Apa and Mitchell, it captured a realistic perspective of the liminal stage between high school and college through showing a variety of different character’s perspectives.

 

*spoilers ahead*

 

(Photo courtesy of Netflix)

 

The fact that it already starts post-high school is something that benefited the film greatly. It escaped useless stereotypes associated with high school that need not be shown over and over. Instead, it tackles a lot of realistic experiences of American teens trying to find themselves as young adults. There’s romance but it is portrayed in a natural way that isn’t glamorized or deemed necessary for the characters, it merely flows. Not to mention, sex was included but not made out to be the pinnacle of relationships. For, Griffin and Pheobe it just happens naturally without being built up to the “prom night” esque idealization. And for Foster, he realizes through Alex’s quick acceptance, that being a virgin isn’t as big of a deal as it’s thought out to be.

 

(Photo courtesy of Netflix)

 

The chemistry between the couples is heartwarming and funny, just as it should be. But the issues they throw in are also handled just as well. Griffin apologizes to not only Phoebe, but her mother! He admits that his lies were selfish and he shows his remorse without wanting something back, which was very refreshingly mature for a teen movie.

 

Also, when cheated on, Erin’s immediate response of leaving Ricky to figure his situation out was no doubt a proud moment for the audience. She shows a strong female lead who doesn’t stay with him just because he’s some rich, famous baseball player. Nonetheless, she ends up kissing her ex Alex at the end anyway, which was a bit of a let down but also humorous in how every girl watching can probably relate to watching their friends immediately going back to their ex’s after something new doesn’t work out. They made her, along with the other characters, dimensional. They weren’t forced to fit one stereotype or another, which made them seem real, even in the realm of teen movie exaggeration.

(Photo courtesy of Netflix)

 

As for more archetype breaking, the Chad and Reece, the “outcasts,” were given their happy ending in knowing they never had to change at all to be accepted or loved. They found people who appreciated them for themselves, which is an exhausted theme but done very unexpectedly in this movie. One of the favorite character arches for me, however, was Audrey’s. Her character sheds light on something most college-based teen movies don’t: the stress of relying on financial aid. Not only does she defy the stereotypical plots of having every teen prepared with enough money and support to go to their dream colleges, she defies the societal norm of even going to college! Even more so, she takes the time to point out Erin’s privilege and educate her on it! To me, this was a great choice of the writers to include. It made their reality so much more trustworthy and believable. These characters are relatable in a way that doesn’t feel so forced or cliche.

(Photo courtesy of Netflix)

 

This movie showed the options of being solely focused on college, being focused on relationships, being focused on yourself or your family, and did it in a way that didn’t undermine any of these character’s endings. It doesn’t force viewers to fit themselves into a box but instead lets them know that whoever they are and whatever they want to do, they will find a place for themselves just as they are.