Feeling the Seasonal Blues? Here Are 9 Films that Capture Summertime Sadness

For a season that purports to be about endless revelry, summer sometimes sucks. There’s the sweltering heat, endless days working indoors, allergies. The seminal films—adventurous rides, simmering erotic thrillers, and feel-good sports stories—are antithetical to the inherent malaise. Escapism reigns king. 

Yet summer is the time of year with the least amount of structure: Overblown nostalgia leads to guilt for misspent youth. Days that once recalled swimming and lounging instead may call to mind pockets of time left unfulfilled. This sense of drifting—whether literally or emotionally—offers a supposed romanticized independence yet can turn into endless ennui. 

It’s only right that a seasonal watchlist reflects this sense of melancholy. To that end, from modern Greek tragedies to Southern gothic coming-of-age tales, CULTURED recommends 9 films that evoke summertime sadness.

Still from La Collectionneuse (1967). Image courtesy of The Criterion Channel

La Collectionneuse 
Run time:
96 minutes 

No one captures the simmering malaise of summer like Éric Rohmer. Adrien (Patrick Bauchau) goes to a friend’s house in St. Tropez to unwind with Daniel (Daniel Pommereulle) only to find that Haydée (Haydée Politoff) is staying with them. As she takes home someone new each night, Adrien and Daniel dub her “the collector” while completely missing the connections she yearns for. Shot with very little budget and often relying on natural light only, Rohmer’s tale of vacation-induced ennui evokes the sultry side of feeling stuck. 

Streaming: The Criterion Channel 

Sasha Lane in American Honey (2016). Image courtesy of A24 and Focus Features

American Honey 
Run time:
163 minutes 

Sasha Lane’s electrifying performance propels this roadtrip odyssey in the American heartland. Star (Lane) leaves her abusive home in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and starts traveling around the Midwest with a transient sales crew led by Krystal (Riley Keogh) and enforced by Jake (Shia LaBeouf). British director Andrea Arnold captures the wayward melancholy of American youth with such deftness that the film won the Jury Prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. 

Streaming: MAX


Still from Midsommar (2019). Image courtesy of A24 

Run time:
148 minutes 

Summers are arguably the time to free oneself from an unwanted relationship, and what better way to process that uncoupling than with Ari Aster's self-described “breakup film”? After a family tragedy, Dani (a pitch perfect Florence Pugh) accompanies her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his friends to a rural commune in Sweden for a midsummer festival, which takes place once every 90 years. Going full psychedelic folk horror, the film demonstrates that sometimes the most terrifying occurrences happen in broad daylight. 

Streaming: MAX

Still from Dogtooth (2009). Image courtesy of Verve Pictures

Run time:
97 minutes 

Fans of Yorgos Lanthimos can pregame Kinds of Kindness with his modern Greek tragedy that won the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2009. A controlling husband (Christos Stergioglou) and his subservient wife (Michele Valley) keep their three adult children captive in their idyllic isolated compound, stunting their ability to communicate with the outside world. Pool games and playing in the grass will never look the same after this short, mean feature. 

Streaming: Prime Video

Still from Aftersun (2022). Image courtesy of A24 and MUBI

Run time:
101 minutes 

Playing into the nostalgia factor of home video, Charlotte Wells’s feature directorial debut excavates a father-daughter relationship through both digital and personal memory. 11-year-old Sophie (Frankie Corio) and her father Calum (Paul Mescal) take a trip to a resort in Turkey for his 31st birthday. The film cuts between in-scene moments and footage that Sophie records herself with a MiniDV camera, piecing together the heartbreaking ways familial relationships both intimate and obfuscate parents as people. 

Streaming: Paramount+

Still from Eve’s Bayou (1997). Image courtesy of Trimark Pictures

Eve’s Bayou
Run time:
109 minutes 

A Southern gothic coming-of-age in Louisiana—and Kasi Lemmons directorial debut—Eve’s Bayou follows 10-year-old Eve Batiste (a young Journee Smollett) as she witnesses familial discord and the subsequent fallout in her rural Creole-American town. The film was chosen to be placed in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2018, a decision which speaks to its on-going cultural resonance as a tale of Black youth. 

Streaming: Prime Video

Still from Certified Copy (2010). Image courtesy of IFC Films

Certified Copy 
Run time:
106 minutes 

How does someone know what they mean to the one they love? Abbas Kiarostami’s sun-soaked Tuscan drama follows a British writer (William Shimell) and a French antiques seller (Juliette Binoche) as they meet and get to know one another, speaking English, Italian, and French over the course of the day while the details of their collective history become muddled. Kiarostami tapped non-actor Shimell, who is a baritone opera singer, to play alongside national treasure Binoche—who won Best Actress at Cannes in 2010 for her performance in this role—in one of the most oddly perfect acting duos committed to screen. 

Streaming: The Criterion Channel

Still from The Graduate (1967). Image courtesy of Embassy Pictures

The Graduate 
Run time:
106 minutes 

During shooting, director Mike Nichols became so obsessed with Simon & Garfunkel that he insisted on featuring “The Sound of Silence” in the opening of his coming-of-age classic, forever changing summer soundtracks. As Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) drifts post-college graduation, he finds himself pulled in opposite romantic direction, one toward his married neighbor Mrs. Robinson (Ann Bancroft), the other toward her daughter, Elaine (Katherine Ross). It’s one of the best examples of summer listlessness—and the destructive nature of boredom—that’s been committed to the screen. 

Streaming: Prime Video

Still from Badlands (1973). Image courtesy of Warner Brothers

Run time:
93 minutes

Terrence Malick’s directorial debut—and Sissy Spacek’s second ever film role—crafts an American fairytale by the way of the brothers Grimm. 15-year-old Holly Sargis (Spacek) meets and runs away with Kit Carruthers (Martin Sheen as his most insidiously charming), thus going on a murder spree across South Dakota. At times disarmingly charming and unsettling, the film captures the bygone tale of love gone awry, romanticizing treehouses and the open road before tearing the image apart. Plus, it still has one of the greatest taglines of all time: “In 1959 a lot of people were killing time. Kit and Holly were killing people.”

Streaming: Prime Video