SXSW 2023 Review: Peak Season

Dragon Movie Guy
4 min readMar 14, 2023
Courtesy: Derrick Joseph DeBlassis and Claudia Restrepo/Peak Season/Tectonic Film, LLC

Writer/Director team Steven Kanter and Henry Loevner return to SXSW Film Festival with their troop of actors for ANOTHER Indie Comedy Romance in ‘Peak Season’.

Kanter and Loevner came to South By Southwest in 2021 with the Pandemic-Era RomCom ‘The End Of Us’, and now continue the genre with new characters and much of the same cast. This time, we explore the romance in the middle of the Grand Tetons, during the ‘Peak Season’ for tourism — and LOVE.

Courtesy: Claudia Restrepo as ‘Amy’ and Derrick Joseph DeBlassis as ‘Loren’/Peak Season/Tectonic Film, LLC

The Plot — Peak Season

Amy’s not quite sure — about her career, her wedding, or even her man.

She’s been with Max for five years now, but Amy Jimenez, played by Claudia Restrepo, SEEMS to be doing well. She’s got the successful Fiance, who loves her and treats her right. She’s got close friends who are One-Percenters who who have all the connections to help her out in her career. And, she’s planning what should be the wedding of her dreams.

Max Rosen, played by Ben Coleman, exemplifies everything one could want from a future husband. With the exception of a being slightly TOO focused on his career; he’s the good looking, financially successful man who loves and treats Amy right.

So, how can Amy seem so nonplussed while vacationing with the man she loves at a ski mansion all to themselves on the 4th of July??!!

After catching up with their close, New York Ex-Pat friends, the Friedmans, Max hires a wilderness guide that George, played by Fred Melamed, highly recommends.

Max hires Loren, played by Derrick DeBlassis, over the phone to teach them fly fishing.

Before they can head out to the river, Max has to head back to New York to take care of business, but insists that Amy stay and enjoy herself. Amy mildly protests, but before she knows it; Amy strips down to change into hip waders on the side of the road — with Loren waiting patiently with his back turned.

Amy and Loren’s bonding, surrounded by nary a human soul, on a screensaver quality view river is about to start.

The Good — Peak Season

Location Scouting

The Jackson Hole location scouting for Peak Season shows off the beautiful mountain ranges, rivers, and trees; the high end bars and restaurants in downtown Jackson Hole; and, the million dollar ski mansion where our engaged couple stays.

You get a real feeling of the wealth and big-city stress that the wealthy tourists are bringing to this small ski-town to get away from it all.

You could totally see why the One Percenters flock to Jackson Hole, and why the ‘SKID-Life’ service industry workers — laboring at odd jobs to be able to afford a semi-nomadic life in Jackson Hole are so popular.

Also, the fly fishing scenes look like a ton of fun, and the bars and restaurants look nothing but ‘Five Star’.

The Chemistry Of The Cast

It’s fun to see Writer/Directors Steven Kanter and Henry Loevner bring back their same acting troupe from past movies.

Peak Season is the first of their movies that I have seen, but you can feel the familiarity this talented cast of actors and actresses feels for each other. That comradery acts as a great shorthand for this Indie movie shooting on a limited budget, ironically about the top one-percenters.

While the Chemistry doesn’t extend to the Romance angle of the Story, and actually kind of works against it in some ways. Regardless, the tight relationships the actors feel for each other strengthen the film overall.

The Bad — Peak Season

No Antagonist/No Bad Guy

In a film relatively grounded in a financial reality experienced only by the super rich, Peak Season focuses mostly on emotionally well rounded characters; and completely lacks an antagonist or bad guy.

Not that every movie needs a mustache-twirling villain, or a killjoy bent on ruining lives. But, when the focus of a Romantic Comedy has ZERO forces working in opposition to that love — there’s a certain energy missing from this film.

The Review — Peak Season

The first film I’m watching for the 2023 South By Southwest Film Festival has all the earmarks of a classic Indie Movie, but falls just short of memorable.

Peak Season may be about the peak season for tourism in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; AND the peak season in people’s adult lives; but fails to bring much romance, comedy, or drama to a RomCom with Drama.

The friendships and relationships at the center of Peak Season are realistic and fully flushed out. But, there isn’t much of a romantic energy or chemistry in a film about romantic feelings and chemistry.

The real life friendships and energy of Steven Kanter and Henry Loevner’s troupe of actors ad to the movie. But, the lack of romantic chemistry between Claudia Restrepo and Derrick Joseph DeBlassis makes the film fall just short.

Restrepo’s ‘Amy’ and DeBlassis’ ‘Loren’ come across as likeable, well rounded, and realistic. But, they have little romantic chemistry with each other.

Their characters go on interesting character arcs, as both are at turning points in their lives. But, that’s not quite enough to make the film pop on screen, or motivate me to recommend this film to watch.

Not bad at all, but far from great or memorable. Not saying to NOT watch, but NOT saying to watch.

Courtesy: Movie Score/Peak Season/Dragon Movie Guy



Dragon Movie Guy

Love reviewing Movies, T.V. & Entertainment 📽 Movie Critic, Podcaster, Influencer 📺 TV News Photog, Reporter, Anchor 💸 Sponsorships, Consults, Collabs