A young psychologist bonds with two psychiatric patients and a nurse during a road trip to a seaside clinic, in Lithuanian filmmaker Marija Kavtaradze’s light-hearted but compassionate comedy.
Marija Kavtaradze’s light-hearted but emotionally piercing Summer Survivors marks the second outstanding debut from Lithuania at the Festival in as many years (following Egle Vertelyte’s Miracle). Recalling the compassionate cinema of John Hughes and its humorous approach to coping with life’s bitter truths, the film accompanies its young protagonists on a road trip to a seaside psychiatric clinic — and on an illuminating journey.
Twenty-something Indre (Indré Patkauskaité), a recent psychology postgraduate, has just joined a leading clinic when she’s tasked with escorting Paulius (Paulius Markevicius), a patient who has bipolar disorder, to another facility. Tagging along for the ride are Juste (Gelminé Glemžaité), a quiet young woman under observation following a recent suicide attempt, and the clinic’s lead nurse. Along their journey, they break through each other’s barriers, delve into the sources of their various traumas, and discover the lasting imprints left on their fragile souls.
Writer-director Kavtaradze crafts an incredibly moving and mature portrait of mental illness, prioritizing gentle humour over melodrama to create complex characters that shine through natural performances.
A road-trip Breakfast Club, Summer Survivors delights in its prudent visual and sound design, skewing each compositional element to make it stand out just enough to mirror mental illness’s hidden latency under the mask of normalcy.
A joyful ode to the human spirit’s resilient nature, Kavtaradze’s film feeds us the bitter pill hidden among life’s multi-coloured chocolates, gently nudging us closer to empathy and acceptance.