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Winter Spring Summer or Fall Review: Young Love 

Winter Spring Summer or Fall, Tiffany Paulsen’s newest romcom, showcases the strength and charisma of up-and-coming stars Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White.

Director: Tiffany Paulsen
Genre: Drama, Music, Rom-Com
Run Time: 97′
Tribeca Premiere: June 6, 2024
Release Date: TBA

Audiences have been craving the return of true romantic comedies for a long time now. With the success of films such as Anyone But You in the recent pop culture zeitgeist, it is clear the best way to get rom-coms to come back in the way audiences desire is to get big-name or emerging stars to garner interest in making these films.

Winter Spring Summer or Fall, Tiffany Paulsen’s newest rom-com that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, utilizes this formula by enlisting the talents of two rising stars: Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White. While they truly shine, unfortunately, the rest of the film feels lackluster. 

Winter Spring Summer or Fall follows two high school seniors, tracking their relationship throughout one singular day of each season. When Remy (Jenna Ortega, of Miller’s Girl) and Barnes (Percy Hynes White, of Wednesday) meet, it’s clear they are complete and total opposites. Remy has been studying and working towards becoming a Harvard student her entire life with grand plans to become a civil lawyer. Her ambition has isolated her from her peers because she has set hard deadlines for the accomplishments she hopes to achieve one day, leaving room for nothing but success. Barnes, on the other hand, is a total free spirit. Raised by a single mother in the Army, he has always approached life with a relaxed ease and never takes things too seriously. His plans for the future are far less stringent, mainly because he doesn’t really have any.  

Barnes first spots Remy while sitting on PJ’s (Elias Kacavas, of Euphoria), Remy’s neighbor and Barnes’ best friend, smoking pot. Later that day he sees her on a train into Manhattan and decides to go talk to her. Through their initial conversation, we learn just how disconnected Remy is from those her age as she is so wise beyond her years she has no basis of what people her age deem fun. This highly intrigues Barnes, who is not intimidated by her smarts but rather eager to understand her and help her understand the world of fun she seems unable to relate to. A deep bond between these seemingly polar opposite characters ensues, leading to a truly sincere romance

As far as rom-coms go, Winter Spring Summer or Fall does little to distinguish itself as particularly strong compared to other films within the genre. The premise is entertaining enough, the storyline is fairly predictable and there are a few genuinely funny moments. The film’s strength lies entirely in the performances of Ortega and Hynes White, who are clear stars at the beginning of what will be impressive careers. 

Winter Spring Summer or Fall (Paramount Pictures / 2024 Tribeca Film Festival)

While it may seem like limiting the audience’s time with the characters may work against the film, the script actually manages to pack a lot of conversation and connection into the four days we spend with Remy and Barnes. Their relationship feels completely fleshed out; they are the type of couple you could see genuinely being best friends with one another. 

The story does this by not rushing their relationship into some soulmate type of connection or fiery passion from the moment their eyes lock. Winter Spring Summer or Fall takes its time building the relationship between Remy and Barnes to make us believe why these two wildly different people would find solace in one another. They spend one out of the four days the film covers building a friendship and gaining an understanding of one another’s world. Not only does it make their relationship more believable, it adds tremendously to the charm of the film.

The fact this relationship has audience members swooning at the back and forth of the characters and the cheeky inside jokes they share is a complete ode to the talent of Ortega and Hynes White. While Ortega has deservingly garnered critical acclaim for her titular role in Wednesday, Hynes White proves himself a completely worthy adversary in each of their scenes together. They make the love their characters feel for one another palpable, causing audiences to blush and become giddy at the innocent intimacy we see on the screen. 

Unfortunately for Ortega and Hynes White, making this film stand on its own against other greats within the rom-com genre is an uphill battle. While their characters are charming and their dynamic well written, other aspects of the movie feel like more of an afterthought. Outside PJ, the other characters within the film are underdeveloped in a way that actively distracts from the plot. It’s overtly obvious the other characters are there simply as plot devices. Their dialogue is also not given nearly as much care as the dialogue between the leads. 

It feels like the goal of Winter Spring Summer or Fall was to create a strong central relationship, and in that sense, it definitely succeeded. As an audience member, you get to feel like you’re falling in love alongside the characters on screen, but that’s really the one trick the film has to show for itself. There needs to be more for audiences to sink their teeth into if this movie wants to stand amongst greats like it. 

Winter Spring Summer or Fall will most likely be just a drop in the bucket of casually enjoyable rom-coms. It’s a fun treat for fans of Ortega and Hynes White and could be a great parlay for their younger admirers into the world of rom-coms, but it ultimately doesn’t have the power to stun. While Winter Spring Summer or Fall is an entertaining watch, the main thing you will walk away from the film is an appreciation of Ortega and Hynes White and their talents. 

Winter Spring Summer or Fall had its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 6-15, 2024. Read our list of 15 films to watch at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival!

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