Film Review: My Extraordinary Summer with Tess

Steven Wouterlood’s My Extraordinary Summer with Tess (Mijn Bijzonder Rare Week met Tess) is a family-friendly drama which should prove entertaining for all ages.

Ten-year-old Sam and his family are spending their summer vacation on a Dutch island. When Sam meets Tess, an interesting but rather strange girl. As the pair become friends, Sam finds out about Tess’ secret…

Based on book by Anna Woltz, director Steven Wouterlood and screenwriter Laura van Dijk have crafted a pre-teen drama which is wise beyond its years. My Extraordinary Summer with Tess has wide appeal, despite the age of its protagonists. The film explores friendship between two unusual characters. With his aloneness training and preoccupation with morbidity, Sam does not come across as an average young boy. Tess meanwhile is unpredictable, interesting to be around yet rather unpredictable to Sam and others.

As their friendship progresses, the motivation behind Tess’ strange behaviour is made apparent. There are some sweet reflective scenes as Sam helps Tess come to terms with her feelings. Sam’s narration is sometimes amusing, sometimes sad. He shows a level of reflection which is surprising for his age. The narration is a good way of conveying his thoughts, as he is rather introverted outside of his friendship with Tess. 

My Extraordinary Summer with Tess is amusing, as well as . There is a several funny incidents, and a laugh out loud moment when Sam attempts to come out with an excuse on the hop. There is a very poignant moment in the film, Wouterlood pulls off the change in tone very well. The ending is earnest; the breakthrough Sam has with his family is lovely to watch. The direction good overall, slow motion is a little overused. Both Sonny van Utteren and Josephine Arendsen impress as Sam and Tess.

My Extraordinary Summer with Tess is an enjoyable drama which is age-appropriate whilst addressing meaningful themes.

My Extraordinary Summer with Tess (Mijn Bijzonder Rare Week met Tess) is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019.

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