Summer White (Blanco de Verano) : ‘Sundance’ Review – A Powerful Coming of Age Tale about Transitioning through Adolescences
What does one do when expressing oneself is not possible? When a sudden change could simply put your entire body and soul in a kind of unrest that you haven’t ever felt before. For Rodrigo – A 13-year old teenager, unrest is caused by the sudden arrival of a stranger in his home. For him, his mother is his entire world. The kind of intimate relationship he shares with her doesn’t leave room for socializing in general. He is a lonely kid who is almost always consumed in the little world he has created around him. ‘Summer White‘ (Blanco de Verano), Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson’s powerful tale about growing up is built upon change. It clearly and distinctively delivers on the thin line of acceptance and the chaos of having to deal with one’s own satisfaction to that change.
Without a second thought, one can feel that this is a very personal story for the Mexican director. The similarity to the protagonist’s name is just a hint. There are other similar ways in which the debutant director shows his detailed depiction of a period of life where mistakes define a person. ‘Summer White’ is depicted as the color with which Rodrigo’s mother paints her apartment. Of course, this is not her decision in its entirety. The color is chosen by her new boyfriend. If a viewer watches this small exchange and what happens thereafter – it would be difficult to see what triggered the incident. However, if you place yourself in Rodrigo’s shoes – it’s almost as if a part of his heart is ripped out from his chest.
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‘Summer White‘ (Blanco de Verano) depicts a period in a life where maturity comes with a series of misunderstood truths. The film deals with the transition from infancy to adulthood. Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson’s detailed narrative slowly traces the little details that formulate teenage hysterics. The inability to speak and divulge into the reason behind feeling a certain way is magnified within his lense. Rodrigo is a child who is suddenly pushed out of a very comfortable and loving relationship with his mother. His inability to get on with his new life is channeled out in fumes. He is either constantly smoking or is seen burning shit up. His act can be seen as rebellion but to be completely honest, Patterson rightfully portrays it as a getaway from one’s own anger.
As a viewer, I often felt bad for Valeria. Rodrigo’s mother is just trying to build up a new life for her post her failed marriage with his father. It’s never explicitly mentioned but things did not end well with them. It can be understood from the fact that Valeria often threatens to send Rodrigo to his fathers as if it’s the worst kind of punishment there ever can be. But Patterson makes sure that we don’t go too harsh on Rodrigo’s sudden outburst of trying to ruin things for the only person he truly loves. He makes sure we see the progression in his life through his ever-changing perspective.
Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson plays this narrative along with acts of complete breathlessness. The protagonist finds it hard to breathe when he doesn’t understand why he is acting a certain way. Cinematographer María Sarasvati Herrera makes sure that she captures the teenager’s angsty reactions through long hand-held shots to amp up the dramatic tension. ‘Summer White‘ (Blanco de Verano) works because it never actually asks us to pity Rodrigo. We are just left in between the transitions that happen in the kid’s life. You can judge and call him difficult but when you look back into your own memories the period of life that changed you never had colors that made you happy.