After Anna’s (Felicity Jones) return to England, she and lover Jacob (Anton Yelchin) live in a netherworld, where they try to carry on with their lives apart, while processing the few summer months they spent together. Their grip on the memory sends them through a series of logistics to free Anna to return to America and reunite. Love may have blinded them, especially Anna, to reality. Despite the series of signs which point to Jacob joining her on the other side of the pond, she stubbornly or subconsciously submits to a decidedly American male-centric point of view of the relationship.
The ultimate solution to their dilemma lies in Santa Monica, the beach town birthplace to their romance, which has left the lovers with impressions rooted deep in the psyches. The initial dilemma is forced, but the mechanics that follow frame the test that time has on the their youthful, seemingly boundless love.
The more expressive Anna drives their relationship. The film showcases Jones (the English answer to Emma Roberts?) with her free-spirited, thoughtful performance. She not only captures the girly, yet tempered giddiness of Anna, her flawless skin knocks years off her age.
Jacob, on the surface, isn’t as sympathetic. Less invested, he’s played by a drab and dour Yelchin. Not so much head over in heals in love, he’s more fascinated by Anna’s fervor for him. Yet, oddly, the film finds him less bland than another male character, Simon (Charlie Bewley), because he makes his own hours as a furniture designer and enjoys whiskey.
Drake Doremus directed the 2011 Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner. He has a light and effortless touch in his digitally shot endeavor. While the passage of time is often ambiguous, he peppers segues with sometimes inventive visuals. Often, Doremus weaves composer Dustin O’Halloran’s (Marie Antoinette) wistful, semi-techno instrumentals into the soundtrack. Cinematographer John Guleserian captures the most blissful moments with sun-kissed afternoons in grassy parks and on sandy beaches. The parts add up to a nostalgic backdrop for a story about first love, creating memories and good-times scrapbook style.