The comedy about directionless people feeling the pressure of arrested development has been a staple of indie cinema for years. Popularized by films at Sundance throughout the 1990s and 2000s, it has become a reliable method of storytelling. Yet there are stories that can break through the genre for one reason or another. Peak Season surprises with its immense heart. Directors Steven Kanter & Henry Loevner paint a gorgeous array of images and take full advantage of their setting. While the story might feel somewhat common, the film becomes a charming tale about the importance of connection.
Amy (Claudia Restrepo) finds herself trapped. She burned out of her last job, and her fiance Max (Ben Coleman) lives a Type A lifestyle. With their wedding approaching, the couple travels out to the Grand Tetons for the Fourth of July holiday. There, they meet Loren (Derrick Joseph DeBlasis), a local guide who lives out of his truck. When Max leaves for a few days to deal with business, Amy and Loren begin spending all their time together. Their relationship evolves, leaving Amy wondering if her “next steps” are really what she wants in life.
Kanter and Loevner also serve as Peak Season‘s cinematographers, and they excel at crafting beautiful images. The mountains and plains of the Grand Tetons are easy to enjoy, but the composition of Peak Season speaks volumes. They play with the landscape and use it as their production design while the actors deliver heartfelt dialogue. While this distracts on occasion, they shoot the landscapes better than most. Their ability to craft shots translates to more interpersonal, non-nature sequences, proving their eye is not only great in the mountains.
The performance from Restrepo is rather moving, allowing us to watch a woman work through her struggle. Often, we see this story from men, and when women suffer similar issues, they are often pigeonholed to act out. Instead, Restrepo brings practicality and self-awareness to the role. She plays into her mother’s immigrant background, and we can see the toll years of guilt have left on this woman. Her internal and subtle turn is quite excellent, and most of the Peak Season relies on her.
Both Coleman and DeBlasis create characters that play into the dichotomy facing Amy. Coleman makes Max a somewhat selfish, oblivious stockbroker. Yet that life and inattention will provide her comfort. Meanwhile, DeBlasis plays Loren as cool and collected. There’s real chemistry between DeBlasis and Restrepo and that helps their relationship make sense. He also plays a simmering distrust of others that becomes rather helpful in understanding Loren’s view of the world. Neither performer goes above and beyond what is asked, but they bring a good foundation to Peak Season.
Even with a good performance from Restrepo and excellent cinematography, most of Peak Season plays out a predictable story. It does not pull its punch at the end, which it easily could have done, helping add to the realism. While life may pull us in different directions, the connections we make in a moment can be far more meaningful than one might assume. Peak Season explores this idea well and provides a gorgeous canvas for the audience to enjoy.