The Summer I Turned Pretty
The Summer I Turned Pretty novel series for young girls was what The Perks of Being a Wallflower and John Green books once were to young boys. It’s the benchmark for films like The Kissing Booth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – which is just as well because Jenny Han, author of the latter novel, wrote The Summer I Turned Pretty long before the rise of such films. While To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before focuses on the school and cold winter setting, with lots of blue filters and evocative winter soundtrack, The Summer I Turned Pretty stays within the confines of summer: sand, salty water and sea breeze.
The new series on Amazon Prime achieves a lot of that atmosphere through its watery soundtrack, filled with droplets and onomatopoeic production reminiscent of long beach days and swimming in the pool. However, the visuals are a little less summery, erring on the side of neutral to grey filters, which can often come across as dull. A story about growing up, independence, learning to embrace oneself and how falling in love factors into personal development into adulthood, the series captures the essences of these themes perfectly through the clash of several subjects.
Because the book itself was written back in the late 2000s, there are a lot of outdated tropes and discussions that don’t translate well into modern television (things like a girl taking off her glasses and braces, and suddenly she’s more attractive). However, by using these themes and weaving in current staples in romantic film and media, the series becomes a hybrid of not only the intergenerational conflict of the source material and its adaptation, but also the characters – from the parallels and contrasts between Belly and her mom Laurel, and Laurel’s relationship with her best friend Susannah. This makes it a more rewarding watch than just a typical love triangle over summer.
That aside, there’s nothing too special about the execution of the script or the visuals. The cinematography is a little too obvious, using blurs and camera angles to highlight specific characters’ thoughts and emotions without dialogue, which is not uncommon in general filmmaking, but in this case takes away subtlety and the nuance, and ultimately undermines the actors’ efforts to feature such emotions naturally.
The Summer I Turned Pretty is released on Amazon Prime Video on 17th June 2022.
Watch the trailer for The Summer I Turned Pretty here: