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Review: Summer Blink

Lovemaking, confrontations, and unanswered calls
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  October 20, 2010
2.0 2.0 Stars

If autumn and your imminent mid-30s are starting make you feel too sluggish, static, or reasonable, you might consider viewing Summer Blink, a new Seacoast-area movie that limns volatility and sexual curiosity circa age 18. Based on a play that premiered at the Players' Ring in Portsmouth in 2007 (from which the actors reprise their stage roles), writer/director Todd Hunter's feature-length film is a coming-of-age tale of recent high school grad Mina (Tana Sirois): Uncertain about her future and thus often surly and unpredictable, Mina breaks up with her long-term boyfriend Jake (Jeff Bernhardt) and takes up instead with her first-ever girlfriend, a radiant NYU senior named Alison (Ashley Love), who is summering in Portsmouth among Mina's circle.

There results a heated and low-lit summer progression of lovemaking, confrontations, unanswered calls, and smoked cloves, and Kristian Bernier's cinematography, over an array of Portsmouth-area locations, nicely evokes the charged and sultry nature of summer at 18. Hunter's cast has a winning rapport, and appealing Love, as the charismatic new girl, has an allure that runs both hot and chilly; it's a payoff of sorts just to watch the normally sullen Mina soften to Love's charms. In a strong supporting role as Mina's younger brother, Dylan Schwartz-Wallach has an impish wisdom beyond his years as he observes his sisters' foibles. And as Mina, Sirois is at her best as she sheds her scowl and melts into the infinitely more subtle realm of love and self-knowledge that she finds in Alison's arms.

With its scenes of fierce dramatics, its romantic late-night waterfront locales, and its willfully sensual female bodies entwined on grass and against dark washroom walls, Summer Blink will predominantly appeal to a younger audience for whom such scenes are not yet redolent of nostalgia. But while there is no mystery here about how the summer will end, Hunter's film manages to inhabit its brief, fraught span with plenty of electricity.

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