The Warm Season-Review by Jen Bush

Writer-Adam Seidel

Director-Janet Grillo

Cast-Carie Kawa, Daniel Dorr, Michael Esparza, Gregory Jbara, Cynthia Mace, Manny Rubio, Leonel Garza, Oscar Avila, Jose Netro, Gonzalo Robles, Andrew Kern, Nicholas Wagner, Mia Akemi Brown, Christopher A. Brooks Sr., James A.E. Fuentez

     If E.T., Starman and Men in Black attended a family reunion, they would run into their cousin, The Warm Season.  The film takes place in a remote desert town in New Mexico.  We meet Clive, a 12-year-old girl playing on the grounds of her parents’ motel.  She’s taking pictures when she is approached by what looks like a ranch hand.  In reality, he’s an alien named Mann from a dying planet. Mann entrusts Clive with a glowing orb before he’s apprehended by G-men.  He promises to return soon to retrieve it.  Return he does, twenty-five years later.   Clive is now an adult who is struggling to hold her marriage together, keep the run-down motel operational and care for her aged and infirm mother.

     In movies about aliens, we typically see a relationship between an alien and a child or an alien and an adult.  The uniqueness of this film is that it shows us both perspectives from a person encountering an extra-terrestrial at two very different stages of life.  A child approaches an alien life form from a place of innocence and wonder.  Clive asked Mann outright if he was dangerous.  He assured her that he was not and that was all she needed to feel comfortable enough to help him.  Adults do not give aliens the benefit of the doubt.  The aliens end up being imprisoned in top secret military facilities or suffer a fate far worse than that.

      There are two significant journeys happening in the film.  Mann is on a physical journey millions of miles away from home to save his planet.  Clive is on a journey of the heart and soul culminating in introspection and empowerment.  Her sentimentality and need to hold on to the past are holding her back from reaching her full potential as a photographer whose dream it is to have an artist’s retreat.  Her sense of responsibility toward her family and the business comes before her own needs.

      Audiences will quickly warm up to The Warm Season.  Adam Seidel penned an exceptional tale that was at times heartwarming, heartbreaking and strewn with clever humor.  The film was enhanced by the outstanding artistic choices that were made by the experts behind the scenes.  Many scenes were shot in low light with dark set pieces, dark props and tight camera angles. The claustrophobic feel of certain scenes seemed like a deliberate creative decision to provide a metaphor for Clive’s dismal existence.  When Clive, her husband and her mother were eating dinner together, the tension was palpable.  A nice touch was using desert animals as a spirit animal motif seemingly watching over Clive.

      Every aspect of this film was top notch including the entire cast.  As with every cast, there are stand out performances.  Carie Kawa as adult Clive carried this film with strength and grace.  Her layered portrayal of a complex character was emotive and authentic.  The audience will root for Clive as they take the precarious and emotional journey with her. 

     Michael Esparza played Mann.   His imaginative take on what an alien would be like was effective and convincing.  From his awkward speech patterns to his 90’s rapper colloquialisms you could tell he wasn’t from around those parts.  Esparza’s portrayal was poignant.  No matter what Mann was put through, he never lost faith in humanity.  To not lose faith was one of the strong messages throughout the film.

          Cynthia Mace was outstanding as Nadine, Clive’s ornery mother.  Nadine had no filter whatsoever which led to many comic moments in the film.  Her character underwent a beautiful transformation which was handled adeptly by Ms. Mace. 

     Tony award winning actor Gregory Jbara of Broadway and Blue Bloods fame, just to name a few, stole the show.  A character named Sam Ringo comes with implied expectations which Mr. Jbara delivered deliciously. His performance fluctuated between innocuous and menacing with a serial killer sensibility.  He’s a mysterious character whose identity will be an interesting surprise for the audience.  You never know where you stand with Sam.  He’s presents as a quirky laid-back stoner with a wildly colorful fashion sense but there is much more there than meets the eye.  When he delivers certain lines like, “We can do this one of two ways, in the car or in the trunk” it’s delivered in an even keeled voice with a big smile on his face.   You’re laughing while simultaneously feeling terrified.  It takes deft acting skill to finesse nuances like that, and Mr. Jbara has a bounty of those skills.

     For a film about an alien, there was a lot of humanity at the heart of this film.  Janet Grillo’s directorial vision is a gift for the audience who will be filled with warmth and hope by the end of this film.


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