NOTNot to be confused with the British period drama of the same name starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw released a few weeks ago, this Summerland is an American comedy coming out and coming of age, on a low budget but with an impressive concept. The setup postulates three young Gen Z adults – a heterosexual couple Stacey (Maddie Phillips) and Oliver (Rory J Saper) with Oliver’s best friend, newly released gay Bray (Chris Ball, also co-writer of the film ) on a roadtrip from Washington State to California to attend a desert music festival called Summerland, which looks like a cross between Burning Man and Coachella. The interesting weird twist is that Bray hooked up a well-muscled Christian dude named Shawn (Dylan Playfair) by pretending to be Stacey, convinced that if he could only entice Shawn to meet him in the flesh, he could coax her true sexuality. Shawn, so far unrecognized even by Shawn. Meanwhile, Stacey and Oliver have their own issues of commitment and honesty.
The simple and airy script by Ball, Dylan Griffiths and co-directors Kurtis David Harder and Noah Kentis (who collectively call themselves Lankyboy) manages to make some smart, salient points about the fluidity of sexuality for this generation without ever feeling praised. . There’s always room for gags about psychedelic mushroom mash and ritualistic complaints about tense in-laws who just don’t get it when you borrow their posh RV for a 1,000 mile trip. The three protagonists are attractive but also believable characters with a certain degree of interiority. There are a lot of weird details and a slightly deflationary ending, but all is forgivable for its heartfelt sweetness.