Last Day of Summer movie review: This heartfelt short film weaves an intimate father-son tale

Anupam Kant Verma

Sep,15 2018 16:28:49 IST

3.5/5

Quiet, unhurried, content, Last Day of Summer is a heartfelt short film that, in its best moments, is redolent with all the sights, smells and moods evoked by its title. Director George Kora brings an assured lightness of touch to an intimate tale of a father and son connecting after the passing of the mother. His film is unadorned, unprejudiced and filial from the get go. Even the secondary actors remain distant, mute or backgrounded. Nothing or no one shall intrude upon his protagonists who’re trying, in their own, private ways, to reach out to the other. No wonder the film ends with a dedication to the director’s parents. For LDOS is a letter, lovingly composed, slipped inside a simple envelope and left on the recipient’s table, patiently waiting to be opened. A WhatsApp message or an email it is definitely not.

Our story is set in a town in Kerala. The father, a homeopath, spends the first few minutes of the film working on his Hindi diction. He is soon visited by his son who appears to be working in another state. The moment he first walks into his father’s office, we become cognisant of the gulf separating them. A bitterness, perhaps rooted in the physical distance between them, informs their relationship. The son is the one who tries reaching out to his father over the course of long walks and culinary experiments. Initially repelled, he soon begins gaining ground, leading to the inevitable conclusion befitting the simple story.

Still from George Kora's Last day of Summer

Still from George Kora's Last day of Summer

Kora’s film glows gently with a tenderness that emanates from the son’s character. Obedient and cheerful, he patiently works away on his father’s hard exterior. In time, their relationship becomes more filigreed as it gets tinged with mischief and the eventual confrontation with the issue of the mother’s demise. As if in keeping with the surroundings, there is no raising of voices or flashy cinematography. The writing remains as simple and unadorned as the camerawork and the music. Kora seems to have purposely avoided using vibrant colours in capturing the essence and the appurtenances of two lives lived under one roof. His film whispers its secret to you like a child with knowing mischief in its eyes. Now you know the child won’t tell you anything you wouldn’t already know. But you listen intently nonetheless.

Sure, there are missteps here and there. Some sequences are too long to justify their length within the film. The editing momentarily flounders, especially while capturing the less dramatic moments. Some compositions seem too well thought out to fit in perfectly with the intimate realism of the overall visual experience. The secondary performances are simply bad. However, they never occupy a big enough chunk of the run-time to harm the flow of the narrative. And even if the central performances themselves are not remotely memorable, the right commingling of earnestness and intent keeps LDOS afloat throughout its 20-minute run-time. It passes you by like a long cargo train. Once it is gone, you only remember the peculiar feeling it aroused in you and the snatches of landscape you glimpsed through the gaps in its compartments.

LDOS triumphs in its gentle evocation of the ebb and flow of intimate human relationships. Humbly and quietly, it offers its insights into our behaviours. There is so much that we ache to say to each other. A lot of it goes unsaid. What’s said is often bereft of the expression adequate for its content. We are almost always practising to communicate with others. More often than not unconsciously. Sometimes, the sanctity of truly intimate moments can only be maintained by distance. And then there are times when issues are simply left to resolve themselves, with you patiently waiting it out. Patience is what LDOS excels at. It is a film that bides its time in tenderly realising its story.

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Updated Date: Sep 15, 2018 16:28 PM