By Jennifer Green,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Turkish coming-of-age tale has language, sex, drinking.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Families and friends look out for each other. The teen years are a time of freedom and experimentation before adult responsibilities set in.
Positive Role Models
Teenagers party and stay out too late, but they watch out for each other and support each other through good and bad times. Parents worry about their kids but also know they must give teens some independence. Peer pressure can lead to bad choices but can also prevent mean behavior. The teens in this film have mostly studied hard for exams and await results that will tell them which college and career they've gotten into.
Violence & Scariness
Deniz jumps off a cliff into water, cuts his foot on a rock, and bleeds. The wound reopens repeatedly and takes most of the summer to heal. Older boys tease a younger teen, pushing him under water in the pool, then throw a girl in the water. A boy is teased for his past weight problem. A girl jokes about "cutting" herself when she doesn't get into the college of her choice. Burak turns his car lights off on a road at night, causing several near accidents and scaring his passengers. He talks about his parents dying in a car accident on the same road. Burak and Deniz have a fist fight that results in a bloody face and a sore hand.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens kiss and make out, discussing sex and people's virginity. They talk about "humping," doing "the deed," "hooking up." Deniz regularly stares at Asli's bikini-clad body. Two people appear to have sex on a beach (we see her topless on top of the man), and another couple is caught rolling around together, clothed, on a blanket behind some bushes. A sister walks in on her brother changing clothes and they joke about what she has and hasn't seen before.
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"F--k," "f--king," "mother--ker," "s--t," "a--hole," "smartass," "son of a bitch," "damn," "hell," "moron," "idiot," "losers," "stupid," "brat," "pee," "dear God." The film was reviewed in the original Turkish with English subtitles.
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Products & Purchases
Polaroid, Pac Man, BMW, VW.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens smoke cigarettes and joints and drink heavily -- beer, alcohol, shots, and cocktails. They get drunk regularly, stay out too late, and drive after drinking. There's talk of past alcohol use and of "being high."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Last Summer (Gecen Yaz) is a Turkish coming-of-age film that offers a portrayal of teens free of any responsibilities in summer and spending their time playing, swimming, flirting, and partying. This includes a lot of heavy drinking, some smoking and getting high, and some experimentation and discussion of sex, though there's also a sense of innocence and discovery. A younger teen has a crush on an older teen and tries to impress her, sometimes in ways that could be detrimental to his own well-being, such as drinking too much, smoking, and jumping off a cliff into the sea. He gashes his foot on a rock and gets a deep wound that bleeds and bothers him for days afterwards. Some of the older teens appear to be having sex, and one whose parents died in a car crash scares the passengers in his car by turning his headlights off on a road and nearly getting hit by other cars. Two boys engage in a bloody fist fight. Teens also drink and drive. They kiss and make out and discuss sex and who is a virgin or not. There's talk of "humping," doing "the deed," and "hooking up." Two people appear to have sex on a beach (we see her topless on top of the man), and another couple is caught rolling around together, clothed, on a blanket behind some bushes. A sister walks in on her brother changing clothes and they joke about what she has and hasn't seen before. Language in the English subtitles "f--k," "f--king," "mother--ker," "s--t," "a--hole," "smartass," "son of a bitch," "damn," "hell," "moron," "idiot," "losers," "stupid," "brat," "pee," and "dear God."
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What's the Story?
Deniz is traveling with his family to their summer home on the coast of Turkey at the start of LAST SUMMER. A 16, he's grown up and has also lost a lot of weight since previous summers, giving him a shot at last at his childhood crush, Asli, the best friend of his sister Ebru. Asli is drawn to Deniz's kindness and loyalty, and she includes him on the older kids' outings, but she also seems to still view him as a kid and she flirts with older boys too. As the group of teens await their exam results that will decide their entrance into the college of their choice, they party and enjoy their last youthful summer.
Is It Any Good?
Not every teen romance catches the blend of exuberance and awkwardness of youth with as much as authenticity as this film. Set in Turkey, Last Summer watches its characters experiment with alcohol and sex without judging them for it. When they come to a new level of maturity at the end of summer, we believe it. The film shows this innocence and growth in ways both obvious -- siblings forgoing a final night of partying for a last family dinner -- and symbolic, like Deniz stripping off a scab once and for all. The lead actors, particularly those playing Deniz and Asli, are totally credible as teens figuring out who they are. In one perceptive scene, they both say their only wish for when they grow up is to not be like their parents.
Deniz's mindless habit of stacking random items he finds and balancing them on each other feels symbolic as well of his figuring out what he can and cannot control in life. When their dad offers his middle-aged wisdom that there is "always something to discover" as you grow up, it feels like a summary of the story being told here. The teen years are indeed full of angst and mischief, but they mostly end happily. It could be lost on non-local audiences why the film is set in 1997 because the story feels relevant and contemporary, minus cell phones, and the seaside summer setting is both beautiful and a perfect backdrop for this coming-of-age tale of freedom and growth.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the film's name in English, Last Summer. In what ways is this summer a "last" for the characters?
The film is set in 1997. What does this time period offer that a more contemporary time period might not?
Have you seen any other films set in Turkey? Could the film be set elsewhere without a lot of changes? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: July 9, 2021
- Cast: Ece Çeşmioğlu, Fatih Şahin, Halit Özgür Sarı
- Director: Ozan Aciktan
- Inclusion Information: Middle Eastern/North African actors
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School, Holidays
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 28, 2022
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