“Everyone around here either has a second home or a second job,” Loren (Derrick DeBlasis) tells Amy (Claudia Restrepo) about Jackson Hole, Wyoming in “Peak Season,” when both feel like outsiders even though the former has been around these parts for the past five years or so finding odd jobs to get by. He wouldn’t have it any other way, living out of his Jeep with no other commitments than to his dog and gravitating towards the kind of work where he’s out in the natural beauty that brought him to the urban escape in the first place, teaching fly fishing and serving as a hiking partner to the wealthy looking for a little R & R out of the city or spend their retirement. Amy would have to describe herself as one of those interlopers, though it’s not really in her background as the daughter of a limo driver who could set her on the path of business school where she got her own MBA and met Max (Ben Coleman), a future supply chain expert whose family didn’t need to strain to afford tuition and in fact, has a vacation home in Jackson Hole where the two can decompress.
No one gets to relax in Henry Loevner and Steven Kanter’s delightful second feature, except for the audience for whom the weekend will actually feel like an excursion when the duo makes sure to compose shots that show off the idyllic landscapes. They also demonstrate a real gift for making romantic comedies that effortlessly involve the real world, following up their pandemic-set debut “The End of Us” in which a couple found their way back together after deciding to break up on the eve of quarantining. In “Peak Season,” Loren and Amy may seem like they’re from opposite ends of the spectrum when Max arranges a date to learn fishing from Loren that only Amy can go on when Max is called away with a work emergency, but it’s immediately clear to both that they have a rapport and more in common than they’d think, with Amy staving off a search for a new job after feeling burnt out from her last one and finding a particularly sympathetic ear in Loren, who gave up the rat race long ago.
DeBlasis and Restrepo make for a charming pair that clearly is a better fit for Amy than her current fiancé, but Loevner and Kanter aren’t only savvy about the similarities between the two that’s part of their attraction, but the way they challenge each other with different attitudes towards society and put value on different things, perhaps throwing up red flags for a potential coupling but keeping things interesting as their relationship unfolds, There’s also the not-so-small matter of Max, who may not be in the picture so much after a certain point, but is hardly demonized as the person from whom Amy has simply grown apart, far more accustomed to the life of privilege and business that has become disenchanting to her. The nuances make a huge difference when “Peak Season” flirts with the comforting cliches that one wants from a romcom while eluding the ones you don’t and as mountains appear to be made of molehills in all of the relationships, you see how insurmountable they can be in a partnership and refreshingly, the question becomes not who Amy will choose at the end, but what kind of life she wants for herself, a choice she may feel alone in making, but Loevner and Kanter suggests that together we all have.
“Peak Season” will screen at SXSW on March 13th at 5:15 pm at the AFS Cinema and March 14th at 7:45 pm at Alamo Lamar C.