SUNDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Summer White, or Blanco de Verano, is the story of Rodrigo (Adrián Ross) a sweet but shy and lonely 13-year-old who is very close to his mother, Valeria (Sophie Alexander-Katz). She is divorced from his dad and is now raising Rodrigo by herself. Their intense relationship is punctuated by their deep understanding brought on by constant communication.
Rodrigo seems the perfect son, however, as soon as his mother leaves him unsupervised the young teen starts playing with fire, literally. He smokes cigarettes, likes to burn things simply for the fun of it, and most disturbingly, test his limits. He also tends to skip school and goes to a junkyard. This wasteland is Rodrigo’s hidden secret garden, a place where he can take refuge from the outside world and be himself. It is here that Rodrigo finds an abandoned RV trailer that he fixes up to be his second house.
“This wasteland is Rodrigo’s hidden secret garden, a place where he can take refuge from the outside world and be himself.”
This new project truly makes him happy, but one day, Valeria brings home her boyfriend Fernando (Fabián Corres) and the adolescent’s world is turned upside down. Rodrigo does not know how to feel about this new father figure despite the man’s best efforts. Fernando seems like the ideal stepdad material as he teaches Rodrigo how to drive a car. Fernando even takes them on a vacation to Acapulco.
He is generally speaking, quite nice to Rodrigo and even keeps some of the teen’s mischievous secrets from Valeria. As much as Fernando understands the singular relationship between the mother and son trying to build this new family, things move a bit too fast for the youngster. But things between his mom and Fernando go much too quickly for Rodrigo to process.
With a runtime of 87 minutes, Summer White is well built, compact and very good as it stands. However, a little more to explore the teenage rage deeper could have cemented the themes better. Although we understand Rodrigo’s frustrations and angst, he is depicted as a generally agreeable child, thus his sudden outbursts often appeared inexplicable or mysterious.
But one might say that Summer White perfectly captures what teenagers are all about: their unpredictable behavior and stubbornness at accepting changes. The performance by Adrián Rossi as the young protagonist conveys these emotions pretty well, and the film, as a whole, makes his actions, no matter how reprehensible, forgivable, and his situation, highly relatable.
Summer White screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
"…perfectly captures what teenagers are all about: their unpredictable behavior and stubbornness at accepting changes."