Inspired by real events, Summer of ’67 brings to life the turbulent times of the 60s and the struggles faced by the men and women impacted by the Vietnam War. Young wife and mother Milly (Rachel Schrey) is forced to live with her mother-in-law (Mimi Sagadin) while her husband Gerald (Cameron Gilliam) is away on the USS Forrestal. Kate (Bethany Davenport) must choose between Peter (Christopher Dalton) her high school sweetheart and Van (Sam Brooks) her new hippie boyfriend. Ruby Mae (Sharonne Lanier) finally finds true love with Reggie (Jerrold Edwards) only to have him whisked away by the draft. Each woman faces the question of whether or not their man will return, and even if he does, will life as they know it ever be the same?
During the late 1960s, even the cheeriest tie-dye could look like a violent and bleak spiral. Summer of ‘67 emphasizes stories of those on the home front during the Vietnam War. From the picket fences of neighborhood streets to the pews of a church, there are people seeking and struggling. Uncertainty, sadness, and frustration churn like the molten middle of a blue lava lamp. Yet, there is faith.
Director and writer, Sharon Wilharm, has partly based Summer of ’67 from her parents and stories regarding the Vietnam War. On July 29, 1967, the USS Forestal caught fire with Wilharm’s father on board.
Summer of ‘67 focuses its heart on the challenges that individuals struggled with at the time and the faith that people could have. It places an emphasis on the strength of God and has some uplifting messages. It portrays individuals caring about others; even some sweet romance. In those aspects, it may be encouraging and affecting.
There are some production and technical aspects that may have the effect of pulling one out of the story. For example, there’s a peculiar scene with a man playing accordion at a wood-paneled restaurant, while a character announces her pregnancy: is it meant to be humorous? Offbeat? Is it just the restaurant’s ambience? Is it not intentional? Or is it even significant?
Summer of ’67 has a suicide in the storyline and some violence involving war. Yet, for the right audience who is ready, it may be an encouraging promotion of faith set during an interesting era. Summer of ‘67 merits the Dove-Approved Seal for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take
Partly based on the writer and director’s parents, Summer of ’67 shows some of the Vietnam War’s home front faith and challenges.