Netflix's latest addition to its collection of romcoms, 'The Last Summer' revolves around a group of teenagers exploring love, friendship, identities, and life, in their last summer vacation before going away to college. While the plot sounds awfully familiar, what's disappointing is that this coming-of-age drama fails to give any new dimension to the age-old romcom plot device of just "one last summer". While it does make the perfect setting for intense romantic relationships to spark off, the movie fails to use this and leaves almost all the relationships portrayed on-screen, unexplored for the most part, and characters underdeveloped, falling back on stereotypes.
The film is directed by William Bindley, who has written the screenplay along with Scott Bindley. It brags its star-studded cast which is its only charming aspect that keeps you going till the end of the movie. KJ Apa plays Griffin, who is romantically involved with Maia Mitchell's Phoebe. Griffin and Phoebe are portrayed as intelligent and ambitious youngsters, and the two hit it off after Griffin offers to help Phoebe with her documentary, which is repeatedly showered with praise during the course of the film. But all we get to know about the documentary is that it is based on teenagers having to deal with adulting and moving away from home and their comfort zones. The rest is left to the viewers' imagination.
Griffin and Phoebe's relationship is relatively better explored than all the others that feature in the film. Erin (Halston Sage) and Alec (Jacob Latimore) break up early on in the film to avoid the hassles of a long-distance relationship or breaking up right before going away to college. Erin and Alec then get involved with Cubs player Ricky and stereotypical dumb, hot girl Paige. By the end of the movie, Erin and Alec rekindle their old flame. Alec's friend Foster is another stereotype played by Wolfgang Novogratz -- a douche who makes a list of girls he can get physically involved with, and explains his douchebag behavior by saying that he was overweight and insecure, a long time ago.
Sosie Bacon plays Audrey, and her character is the only somewhat saving grace in the otherwise hodgepodge of flat, hollow characters. Audrey is not a well-developed character either, with barely any motivation or backstory, but stands out from the rest. She babysits a young kid who aspires to be an actor over the summer and the sisterly bond the two form over time is rather pleasing. Towards the end of the film, while all the others prepare to go to college, Audrey decides not to go to her "backup" college where she got in and opts to work with "Teachers Without Borders" instead. The film has tried to portray the pressure teenagers face while choosing between conventional and offbeat career paths, with Griffin also opting for Berkley to study music, over his alternative NYU dreams.
The rom-com follows multiple narratives that are loosely interconnected, with the only common thread being that all the characters are based out of Chicago and some are friends with the others, like Erin and Audrey, and Alec and Foster. Multiple intertwined narratives coming together in the same movie were seen before on 'Valentine's Day' and 'New Year's Eve', although these took place over the span of 24 hours in the lives of multiple characters. 'The Last Summer' serves as a fun watch with aesthetically-pleasing shots, fun parties, and an attractive star cast, but does not do anything more for the genres of coming-of-age movies or romcoms.