• Charlie Vogelsang

Summer of Mesa (2020) Review

A young girl finds herself torn between two different romances, and begins to question her sexuality in the process.

Shot over just six days in Cape Cod, Summer of Mesa follows a young girl named Lily, played by Molly Miles, who spends the summer visiting her grandmother. During her time there, she ends up caught in a confusing love triangle.

Lily is a reserved and shy girl who enjoys reading classic literature over parties. Her life is turned around after reuniting with her childhood friend John, played by Alec Bandzes, and meeting the enigmatic Mesa, played by Andrea Granera.

Throughout her summer, Lily ends up spending time with both of these people - but struggles to define her relationship with both of them. Summer of Mesa explores Lily’s development as she learns new things about herself and her identity.

Written and directed by Josh Cox, Summer of Mesa is shot with a budget of only $400 with a cast mixed of professional and amateur actors. Most of the dialogue is improvised with conversations being decided by chemistry between actors rather than a script. It feels heavily inspired by Richard Linklater, with films such as Boyhood and the Before trilogy acting as the main influences.

Considering the budget, Summer of Mesa is a triumph

While the improvisation feels natural, it can be a little boring to watch. Every character feels like an actual human being, but not one that you’d always love to spend time with. Most of the extras feel awkward in the worst kind of way, which can make it dull to watch.

Despite the lack of script and overall direction, though, the three main characters are undoubtedly endearing and relatable. Mesa is a free-spirited girl who is cool and mysterious, while showing that she is human with flaws. The same goes for John and Lily, which gives the film plenty of entertaining moments. Lily has chemistry with both her romantic interests which make it difficult to root for just one of them.

Summer of Mesa has some incredible shots showcasing the location and the cast. Visually, the film is stunning with great lighting and cinematography. The music and sound is generally good with a soft piano in the background setting the mood of the scene.

This is definitely a decent film with enjoyable moments. Considering the budget, it is a triumph. Everything is in place for it to be an excellent movie, but the lack of direction between actors is slightly too noticeable.


Available to watch for free on YouTube.