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Beach drama 'Summer of 8' swims in shallow waters

Beach drama 'Summer of 8' swims in shallow waters
Michael Grant and Bailey Noble in the movie "Summer of 8." (Filmbuff / MGM)

The jury's still out on whether Ryan Schwartz's "Summer of 8" is a movie or an ad campaign for a swimwear line. It's certainly got all the hallmarks of one: the sun-dappled, slow-motion, seemingly Instagram-filtered shots of attractive guys and gals frolicking on the seashore in casual sportswear. "I believe we have a diem to carpe," Lily (Shelley Hennig) announces, as the crew spills onto the sand.

The story takes place on the last day of a California summer before a group of high school buddies depart for college. Anyone who's made that transition remembers those heady days that are imbued with so much meaning. "Summer of 8" attempts to slow down and pause that liminal moment, but the problem is that these occasions are only interesting to the people experiencing them. The film is more mood and aesthetic than anything else, and it nails the fictionalized, aspirational high school look — down to the actors who appear to be in their mid-to-late 20s playing 18-year-olds.

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At the home of Jesse (Carter Jenkins), straight from the cover of Coastal Living magazine, the friends ponder existential questions of outer space and infinity alongside raunchy, base discussions about sex with all the depth of a seaside tide pool. There are efforts to expand the conversation, but a debate over sexism between horny Oscar (Matt Shively) and prim Emily (Rachel DiPillo) is dim enough to demonstrate that yup, these kids haven't been to college yet. That's the one aspect that feels real about "Summer of 8."

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'Summer of 8'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes

Playing: Downtown Independent, Los Angeles

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