Pete, an eight-year-old Catholic boy growing up in the suburbs of Chicago in the mid-1970s, attends Catholic school, where as classes let out for the summer, he's admonished by a nun to ... See full summary »
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Pete, an eight-year-old Catholic boy growing up in the suburbs of Chicago in the mid-1970s, attends Catholic school, where as classes let out for the summer, he's admonished by a nun to follow the path of the Lord, and not that of the Devil. Perhaps taking this message a bit too seriously, Pete decides it's his goal for the summer to help someone get into heaven; having been told that Catholicism is the only sure path to the kingdom of the Lord, Pete decides to convert a Jew to Catholicism in order to improve their standing in the afterlife. Hoping to find a likely candidate, Pete begins visiting a nearby synagogue, where he gets to know Rabbi Jacobson, who responds to Pete's barrage of questions with good humor. Pete also makes friends with the Rabbi's son, Danny, who is about the same age; when he learns that Danny is seriously ill, he decides Danny would be an excellent choice for conversion. When the priest at Pete's church informs Pete that all will be tested before they pass the... Written by
Performed by The Jayhawkers
Written by Gary Louris
Published by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI) and Absinthe Music (BMI)
Courtesy of American by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing See more »
We try to like it and are dared to love it, but the film lacks any sort of bite or edge on the mature issues it takes on to be a success.
Stolen Summer is all coy piano music; character arcs we anticipate and flimsy narrative frameworks that wouldn't necessarily feel out of place in a television movie. Hark, then we spot that the film was actually the result of a television programme; a show set up by endowed Hollywood acting royalty in the form of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and designed to get independent films off the ground when they wouldn't ordinarily see the light of day the sentiment a whole lot better than the end product, while somewhat tellingly, the show has hardly flourished since. Much like the film that was a result of it, the experiment was done with the best of intentions although ultimately came out a little flat. Stolen Summer is very much the sort of piece that possesses the capability of attracting great criticism, but it isn't necessarily one of those films one particularly takes pleasure from criticising; you root for it from its humble beginnings right the way through to its, albeit relatively phony, climax, but all the while willing it on to pull away from tepid foundations and spiritless crucibles so as to widen out into a broader; more inspiring, surprising realm. Alas, it doesn't quite make it and if anything, comes close to rather annoying the viewer in the process.
The film covers that of a Chicago based family in the summer of 1976; specifically, this family and their slow inception into varying religious realms through the presence of a local Jewish community whom come to have somewhat of an impact on them. The family, staunch Catholics named the O'Malley's, consist of an array of archetypes ranging from the hard-nosed and very masculine father; to the young son on the cusp of adulthood; to the much younger infant son stuck in there amidst the oft-worried housewife/mother whom essentially functions as a voice of antagonism when she isn't required to remain anonymous. The father, a certain Joe (Quinn), is a firefighter but is a beer swilling; easily wound up guy whom enjoys a gamble with his colleagues at work, and lives for that sensation of working long; hard and manly hours in a physical job so that he may provide for a family he thus feels exists to be bossed about on account of this. Patrick (Kaye-Thomas), Joe's eldest son, is near-enough in his twenties; a softly spoken individual, wiry and not the pit-bull his father is - a person with the steady job of a lifeguard and imbuing characteristics that generally clash with that of his dad.
The sweetest, and probably most substantial strand, covers that of Pete (Stein), who's the youngest of the family and a kid now out of his Catholic school given the summer holidays have begun. Pete has a confused outlook on the all of the world; life and most things around him; a boy with a fear of Hell, damnation and such recently instilled into him via the school, and thus sees himself as a bit of sinner or as someone going out of his way to avoid Godly retribution; so much so that he decides to dedicate the entire break to essentially repenting or trying to find redemption for a bad act he hasn't even done, something eventually forming into the encouraging of a certain young, local but terminally ill boy named Danny (Weinberg) to become Catholic. There is a telling moment on the eve of what Pete labels his "quest", an exchange between he and another boy playing baseball out there on a diamond; the large metallic fence surrounding the pitch and housing either boy on either side of it an indication of their separate sides: a physical splitting of how the respective children will spend their break, a divide surmising one boy and that of sports and leisure and another soul searching away from such things.
Pete's proverbial quest for redemption syncs up nicely with Affleck's own off screen repenting, a pouring of the cash he most certainly made for the previous year's monstrosity Pearl Harbour into that of humbler; more rounded foundings. Upon undertaking the pilgrimage, Pete comes to discover alternate religions and eventually intermingles with the local Jewish community; initial ignorance encapsulated by his meagre Cynagog suggestions early on, which would make little sense to execute. Pete's eventual coming to bond with Danny sees this child's unfortunate disease loom over proceedings; the kid seriously ill enough to be in and out of chemotherapy and yet finds room to swim unenviable distances in what are perceived as "record times" whilst out at sea.
Spinning around Pete's journey of self-discovery lies Joe's strand of being forced into confronting prejudices, a plot line to the film exuding degrees of obligatoriness and painfully highlighting its often languid, often standardised nature of rolling through the motions. It's here the film provides us with politics that are so firmly in the right place, that their entrenchment in such areas actually becomes a little grating. Stolen Summer very much feels like a machine that's just been oiled a little too well; it is often impassive and feels mostly processed, its cogs and wheels therein beautifully kept and working to such a pristine order that does not allow for a great deal of involved antagonism; does not allow for a great deal of ambiguity nor a great deal of blurring of anybody's morals. The piece very much the sort of film refusing to deviate from its grounded route, and it will at once both suffer and excel in its own peculiar ways to varying people as a result.
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