The opening sequence of Ed Burns’ “Summer Days, Summer Nights” introduces the entire characters in a lively seamless montage, the digicam roving by the small homes, following a lady as she rides her bike down the road, waving to neighbors, every individual heading out to greet the day. It is Memorial Day Weekend in a Lengthy Island seashore city. These characters all reside there, i.e., they’re “townies” or “locals,” and so they work at marinas, seashore golf equipment, eating places, catering to vacationers and rich vacationers. Burns (and cinematographer William Rexer) toss you into the midst of the intersecting relationships of this small group. Everybody is aware of everybody, so that is an efficient opening for this most effective movie. “Summer Days, Summer Nights” is solely an ensemble movie. There isn’t anyone lead. Each character has their very own arc, and their very own reckoning to face about their lives. That is the well-trod floor for Burns as a filmmaker (and on the whole), however, there isn’t any disgrace in the well-trod floor, not if you happen to care in regards to the topic and current fascinating characters, which Burns largely does.
J.J. Flynn (Pico Alexander) simply graduated high school and is spending the summertime working for his dad (Burns) at a swanky seashore membership. He desires a distinct sort of life, so he friends round with wealthy children and dates a wealthy woman (whose primary traits are vocal fry and rolling her eyes). J.J.’s cousin Terry (Amadeus Serafini), a wannabe singer-songwriter, is staying with J.J. for the summertime, working for the following door neighbor, a single mother named Claudia (Susan Misner) who manages a small marina. Claudia’s teenage daughter Winky (Rita Volk) is in a funk as a result of her wealthy boyfriend blew her off, and he or she sulks as she wipes down the boats on the marina. Claudia encourages Terry, a hottie with perpetual bedroom eyes, to befriend Winky. Suzy (Caitlin Stasey) a neighborhood woman who “bought out,” returns for the summertime, and discovers that her high school boyfriend Frankie (Anthony Ramos) has been pining for her all this time. Debbie (Lindsey Morgan) works on the seashore membership with J.J. and is a tentative relationship type. Debbie is assured, J.J. shouldn’t be. A few of these arcs work higher than others. One arc does not work in any respect (Terry is meant to appear cool and free-spirited, however as an alternative he comes off as self-involved and pushy.)
Burns is keen on occasions of transition, when persons are younger sufficient to not know what they’re doing, however sufficiently old to begin to really feel the strain. To a middle-aged individual, these issues could seem slight, and even foolish, however to these in the midst of it it’s desperately critical. Burns will get that. There’s not lot of subtext within the script. Everybody says what they’re pondering and feeling proper as they’re pondering and feeling it. They freely converse all exposition. This could result in some repetitive units: lots of scenes begin with dialogue like “So … how’re issues between you and Frankie?” Frankie’s finest pal Mello (Jon Rudnitsky) is married to Suzy’s finest pal Lydia (Zoe Levin), and the 2 of them exist to speak to Frankie and Suzy about their issues. That being mentioned, Mello is likely one of the most memorable characters within the movie, together with his Van Halen garb, Jon Bon Jovi bandana headband, and outsized extroverted persona.
The movie doesn’t fetishize the interval, though, after all, it exhibits up within the garments, the automobiles, and most clearly the soundtrack, which includes Duran Duran, The Remedy, Chaka Khan, The Go-Gos. A number of the needle drops are somewhat on the nostril (Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” makes a compulsory look), however, they set the temper and likewise meld with the summery temper, which Burns captures, within the block social gathering, the fireworks on the seashore, sand between your toes, the look of early morning, the texture of a season of freedom earlier than issues get critical. Burns has been around for a very long time at this level, following his opening splash with 1995’s “The Brothers McMullen,” made on nearly no funds, with no big-name actors. He has continued to make movies, with small budgets and even micro-budgets. His present sequence, “Bridge and Tunnel,” happening in the identical interval as “Summer Days, Summer Nights,” was placed on pause throughout Covid, however, it’s slated to return. Burns has grown as an actor and has settled into middle-age comfortably. He was born to play straight-talking dads, and he is superb right here.
A movie like that is typically referred to as “nostalgic,” however nostalgia shouldn’t be the identical factor as trying again in your youth and wishing you possibly can have a “re-do” at sure moments, notably in your twenties, as your identification solidifies, the place questions like, “Is the selection I am making proper now going to hang-out me afterward?” begin to tackle weight. Is selecting this job alternative or this relationship closing off doorways perpetually that I’d wish to open once more? The anticipatory concern of regretting issues afterward is the air many of the characters breathe in “Summer Days, Summer Nights.”
It may well really feel navel-gazing within the excessive, particularly since everybody has no downside talking out all of those complicated emotions on the drop of a hat. By the identical token, this concern of regrets, the place each selection feels essential and irrevocable, is commonly what it feels prefer to twentysomethings. Burns’ filmmaking is assured and his perspective is anti-sentimental. He captures the ambiance of a city the place an individual can depart for 5 years and are available again to search out that nothing a lot has modified. A go-to neighborhood pub means you run into half your high school class. I grew up in a seashore city like this. Burns will get it proper.
Now out there on digital platforms.