Featuring a narrative infused with summer nostalgia and rites of passage, Steven Wouterlood`s My Extraordinary Summer with Tess is a perfect flick for a hot lazy summer afternoon.
The lead protagonists of the movie are a little boy named Sam, played by Sonny Coops Van Uteren, and a tomboyish girl named Tess (Josephine Arendsen). Sam is spending his summer break with his family on a beautiful island in the Netherlands.
In order to get acclimated to living by himself, he makes the decision to shut himself away for a few hours every day. However, when he finally does meet the fearless Tess, his plan is derailed. This summer will mark a turning point in both of their lives.
The film is based on the book of the same name by Anna Woltz and the story is told in the first person. In the film, it is narrated in the first person by the young male protagonist. But it’s his encounters with the tomboyish and daring Tess that help him learn about life far more than he has from literature up to that moment.
The two teenage actors manage to give a believable performance in their respective roles. While both actors are very new to the film scene, it is an accomplished director who ensures that the film’s Coming-of-Age and first-love themes are well-represented. While the first-person narration helps a lot, it can be difficult to convey the characters’ inner worlds when adapting a novel to the screen.
It is difficult not to compare the two main characters in My Extraordinary Summer with Tess and the entire style to those from Moonrise Kingdom; yet, the American Coming-of-Age comedy-drama from 2012 comes off as being far more interesting and inventive.
The majority of the events take place outside, and the film is imbued with a genuine sense of summer thanks to the gorgeously composed views of expansive sandy beaches, clear blue skies, and clear blue water. When it comes to the cinematography of this movie, the camera seems to concentrate its attention primarily on the boy, shooting many close-ups of his body and eyes. This choice makes sense given that the narrative is delivered mostly via his point of view. However, the contrast between his character and his newly discovered friend Tess is what makes for a charming picture of first love experiences that are intertwined with some serious issues such as mortality, friendships, and loneliness.
My Extraordinary Summer with Tess focuses mostly on the Coming-of-Age experiences of children, while the adult characters mainly play supporting or background roles. In spite of the lack of dramatic advances, the film’s overall dynamic seems to be rather natural for a picture that correctly depicts age-related experiences throughout a single summer week. So, in a way, everything is how it should be.