After the death of her mother, a young girl, Frida (Laia Artigas), is sent to live with her uncle (David Verdaguer), aunt (Bruna Cusi) and young cousin (Paula Robles) in the countryside where, after initially struggling to come to terms with her new circumstances, she gradually learns to accept her new home. An immensely moving autobiographical film by director Carla Simón, Summer 1993 is a deeply touching meditation on childhood set against the beautiful summery backdrop of the Spanish countryside.
What makes Simón’s vision so powerful is down to the subtlety of its presentation combined with the wholly organic way in which events unfold. Absolutely nothing in terms of the direction or writing is overstated; every frame feels completely natural and firmly grounded within reality, and it’s this sense of verisimilitude that further amplifies what are already incredible performances from the cast – particularly that of young Artigas and Robles. Each character is fully realised without the need for extensive characterisation or exposition, everything we need to know about this family is what we learn for ourselves through their actions and reactions on screen.
Similarly, a large part of Summer 1993’s emotional payoff can be credited to its honest and frank portrayal of childhood: the playfulness, the mischievous antics, the selfishness and the cruelty and naivety, all of which are used to punctuate the, sometimes harrowing, events in poignant, meaningful ways that are certain to leave a long-lasting impression on viewers. Likewise, by centring the plot around young Frida’s viewpoint, we’re able to gain valuable insight into the struggles she faces and are subsequently able to connect with her on a personal level, which only makes some sequences all the more emotionally devastating.
As much as we identify with Frida by seeing the world through her eyes, the film also requires viewers to observe these events unfolding from our own perspective as an outsider, and it’s through the combination of these viewpoints that we’re able to grasp the full reality of the situation without the need of any hand holding.
Summer 1993 is an incredibly touching and dramatically moving coming-of-age tale that utilises phenomenal performances and downplayed direction to deliver maximum impact in what is a fully realised depiction of childhood.
Summer 1993 is released in select cinemas on 13th July 2018.
Watch the trailer for Summer 1993 here: