If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it is the need to have the ones close to us – around. But on the flip side, it also opened up the many versions of being with our close ones for an extended period. One of which included the constant, conflicting emotion of loving a person and having to live with a personality that’s far away from our own. In Paul Schwartz’s micro-budgeted indie film “The Seasons – Four Love Stories,” the director presents us with four shorts, each of which punctuates the year’s four seasons and tells stories of couples (or potential couples) in a temporary discord.
Now, as far as anthology films are concerned, I have noticed how the stories get worse as they progress. Paul Schwartz, who has made all four tales here, has grounded all of them in the current political landscape. So, allowing these romances to exist in the pandemic but making the conflict about something other than the virus makes them more humane, grounded, and relatable.
For instance, the first story finds a couple disengaged in each other’s matter because they rushed into a live-in scenario after their initial dates. Both of them are struggling with a steady job, and bitterness has manifested in their relationship. In spite of mediocre acting from the leads in this section, the overall impact remains palpable.
Similarly, the second story is likable because it implicates a sense of urgency in its narrative due to the jealousy that sets foot into the heart of the character. This tale is again grounded in a sense of dejection that the couple face due to one of them being more successful than the other. Director Schwartz knows that his stories need a proper foreground to make the romance at its center feel authentic. This is why the second tale – a harkening back to old-school pulpy erotica with a change in tone and collar palette, works.
The third story, possibly my favorite of the lot, is set in the Winter and is about an old, estranged couple that couldn’t be. Schwartz mellows down on some of the free-wheeling storytelling beats in the first two stories for a more dialogue-driven approach. The real champions of the story are the two elderly actors who greatly uplift the story’s impact and the entire film itself.
The fourth and final story circles back to the first crush but fails to leave you with a lasting aftertaste. The connecting tissues of the tale also don’t feel very naturalistic, and the way the stories are pieced together with a classical music score doesn’t necessarily really make it any more affecting. However, there’s a gentle, familiar taste that “The Seasons – Four Love Stories” offers, and I’d recommend it for that feeling alone.