Indian Summer

(Mike Binder, USA, 1993)


A group of old friends reunite, a decade or so after their golden age together, on a secluded island or at some holiday resort. They settle old scores, explore lingering fantasies, and measure the distance between the days of being wild and their present day compromises with daily reality.

This is the broad formula for a tradition of films that includes Return of the Secaucus Seven (1980), The Big Chill (1983), Peter’s Friends (1992) and now Indian Summer. It is a tradition for which I have almost no fondness.

Alan Arkin plays a wise old father figure who runs Camp Tamakwa, a place where hundreds of teenagers have had fun, come of age and learnt valuable life lessons. A group of these kids return as adults. They are of course a mixed group: a grieving widow, a peeved businessman, a reckless hippie, an unhappy wife … But a problem even greater than their own looms on the horizon: is the glorious history of Camp Tamakwa about to end?

In this type of film, where all bittersweet drama is reduced to a rapid procession of near-inconsequential vignettes, the actors had better be charming. Fortunately, Bill Paxton and Elizabeth Perkins have the kind of screen presence which transcends the platitudes hammered into place by writer-director Mike Binder.

Cult director Sam Raimi (Army of Darkness, 1993) appears in the role of the Camp’s resident goon – and it can certainly be said that he does his burlesque pratfalls with at least as much flair as Yahoo Serious.

MORE Binder: Blankman

© Adrian Martin April 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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