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Review: ‘All Summers End’ wastes strong cast with bad choices

There’s much a filmmaker could do with a cast like the one “All Summers End” has — led by Tye Sheridan and Kaitlyn Dever as love-struck teens, and Paula Malcolmson and Annabeth Gish as their moms — but writer-director Kyle Wilamowski smothers his bid for nuanced emotion in the cardboard mechanics of bad-decision drama. The stars bring effortless believability as gently exploratory 16-year-olds Conrad and Grace, who become close over a summer in which Grace loses her older brother Eric in a car accident.

Conrad’s sensitive but no innocent, however – he bears the terrible secret of having been party to the reckless shenanigans, instigated by his mean-spirited friends, that led to Eric’s death. With the languid air of suburban malaise and North Carolina greenery as an evocative backdrop, Wilamowski’s sensitive yet predictable rollout of ill-fated love under a cloud of sadness and one-way immense guilt might have remained suitably so-so.

But with the terrible decision to bracket it all as the ruefully narrated remembrance of the older Conrad (Pablo Schreiber), we’re subjected to Captain Obvious contextualizing marked by mood-shattering interjections like “I was furious” (because Sheridan isn’t already communicating that?) and “Some of us grow wiser, some of us don’t.” (Oh really?) It’s the kind of ersatz, actor-undercutting stab at authorial seriousness that makes it as regrettable a choice as Conrad’s when he indulges in a night of vandalizing that goes horribly wrong.

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‘All Summers End’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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