The film “Last Summer” plays like an extended montage advertising the arresting views and clear Mediterranean waters of southern Turkey. Like a migratory fish, the teenage Deniz (Fatih Sahin) is lucky to spend summers on this divine coastline beaching, discoing and bronzing in the seaside town where his family has a cottage. This gauzy coming-of-age movie (on Netflix) is set during the summer of 1997, as Deniz tags along with his cool older sister, Ebru (Aslihan Malbora), while nursing puppy love for her teasing bestie, Asli (Ece Cesmioglu).
The director Ozan Aciktan is interested in exploring how Deniz’s crush on Asli, a flirtatious young woman, reflects his yearning for what he sees as the confidence and thrills of adulthood. When he accompanies Asli and her friends to a high cliff, Deniz shows off by jumping off into the sea. Although he survives the plunge, the gash he gets on his foot is a sign that while growing up is exhilarating, it is not without pain.
The film’s attention to Deniz’s growing pains is useful as Asli, a lovely but hazy character, meets a charming older man, and Deniz’s shy longing takes a jealous turn. Tension builds over sunny days and sweaty nights. But upon reaching its climax, the movie fails to fulfill. Asli’s feelings seem to change on a whim, and Deniz suffers no consequences for his mistakes. For all the beauty of its dazzling vacation setting, “Last Summer” coasts, but not toward any satisfying destination.
Not rated. In Turkish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. Watch on Netflix.
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