The Burning Season, directed by Sean Garrity and written by Jonas Chernick and Diana Frances, is a nonlinear romance. JB (Chernick) is finally marrying Poppy (Tanisha Thammavongsa). Alena (Sara Canning) and Tom (Joe Pingue) arrive at the nuptials held at the Luna Lake cabins JB owns. Alena and Tom, who are happily married, know JB and Poppy from vacationing at the spot during the summers. Neither Poppy nor Tom knows that during those summer stays, JB and Alena were having a hot and heavy affair. But their connection extends beyond the flesh, as it is closely tied to secrets they both hold.
The above plot synopsis is vague and hardly scratches the surface of what’s happening. Since the film goes backward, it’s a little tricky at first to understand how and why these characters are acting this way. But once the film jumps backward for the first time, the pieces begin fitting into place. Then, the next time, hop unravels even deeper layers, and so on and so forth, until the final flashback (?) ties everything together. It is difficult to figure out what to say about and not spoil things. Rest assured, Chernick and Frances mapped everything out, and the plot (eventually) makes perfect sense. But again, it is a little hard to understand or relate to the four leads from the start.
“Neither Poppy nor Tom knows that during those summer stays, JB and Alena were having a hot and heavy affair.”
Garrity directs The Burning Season with a steady hand. The camera emulates JB’s drunkenness during the reception as it wobbles like he does. The lighting, especially during the late-night summer sessions, creates a sensual atmosphere tinged with mystery. The scene where JB corrects Alena on his name brims with drama and intrigue in equal measure.
Chernick understands JB inside and out. He portrays the man’s slide from years of sobriety authentically. He and Canning smolder together, adding another layer to the complicated relationships at hand. Canning is alluring, dramatic, and angry. The quick way she takes back and reverses whatever she just said is a lovely little quirk. Thammavongsa is sweet and charming, while Pingue is kind.
The Burning Season starts off a little awkward, as why JB and Alena seem tense doesn’t make sense. This makes the first few minutes unintentionally confusing. However, once the film rewinds time and starts solving this jigsaw of a story, things get great quickly. The four leads are perfectly cast and deliver in a big way at the right time. If you like your romance with some mystery, or vice versa, check out Chernick’s film as soon as possible.
"…things get great quickly."