Summer 1993 (2017) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

Summer 1993, written and directed by Carla Simón, is a frustrating journey with young Frida (Laia Artigas) as she moves in with her aunt and uncle after the death of her mother. The film follows her as she acts out by being disrespectful to her aunt, mean to her cousin Anna (Paula Robles), and generally just a bit of a brat. Despite that, Frida manages to garner some sympathy as the details of her situation unfold.

Summer 1993 is a complex portrait of a young girl who has lost everything she’s known and not knowing how to deal with that

Simón definitely made her first feature a challenging one by making the main character a child. However, the performance that Artigas gives is impressive. For much of the film she’s just asked to be a kid or to look upset, but there are some key moments where more is asked of her and she delivers. When she first arrives at her Aunt Marga ( Bruna Cusí) and Uncle Esteve (David Verdaguer) Frida begins to unpack her dolls. She tells her cousin Anna not to touch them and makes her promise that she won’t. It’s very much what a bratty kid would do and a character trait we see with her throughout the film.

Frida still manages to earn our sympathy as there is a good kid in her. We aren’t really told what happened to her mother or father right away or why she can’t stay in Barcelona with her grandparents. Yet, when Frida scrapes her knee early in the film and another child’s parent freaks out about the blood it becomes clear that Frida could have some kind of virus. The implications of this are telling and a new layer of empathy begins to build. This young girl has been through something traumatic and it’s hard to blame her for her misbehaving even if it grates on your nerves. A fact that Marga struggles to deal with as she tries to give Frida a sense of normalcy as everyone else wants to just coddle her.

Final thoughts…

Summer 1993 was a good movie that was unbelievable challenging to watch at times. The amount of tension that Simón is able to create even with the stakes being relatively small is impressive. Frida is frustrating at times, but by the end, I cared about her and her wellbeing. The film earns a Decent Watch rating.

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