Winter Spring Summer or Fall Review: Love Blooms Amid Familiar Tropes

Leads' Chemistry Saves a Predicable Story

Tiffany Paulsen makes her directorial debut with Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, a charming tale of teenage romance. The film tracks Barnes and Remi, two New Jersey seniors played by Percy Hynes White and Jenna Ortega, over the course of a year. As their high school years wind down, the pair find themselves unexpectedly drawn together—though their lives seem headed in different directions.

Remi is a dedicated student bound for college, while the laidback Barnes isn’t sure what he wants. But there’s an easy chemistry between them from their first meeting on a train. Over the changing seasons, they grow closer despite their diverging paths. Ortega and Hynes White breathe authenticity into their characters with subtle, believable performances that ground the story.

Around the couple swirls the familiar scenery of high school tropes. The film relies on well-worn beats of the genre, from the chance meeting to relationship hurdles. At times, the pacing lags as it meanders through scenes. Yet among the expected moments are also gentle glimpses of new love’s heady power to surprise and transform. For those seeking an understated Valentine’s charmer, Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall delivers pleasantly on its simple promise of young hearts learning together through life’s seasons.

A Year of Young Love

Winter, spring, summer, or fall follow Barnes and Remi over the course of a year. We meet them as their senior year is starting, with Remi laser-focused on college while Barnes takes a more laidback approach. They cross paths by chance on a train, and there’s an instant spark between them, despite coming from different worlds.

Winter Spring Summer or Fall Review

After some coy flirtation, Remi tries keeping Barnes at arm’s length as she prepares for her future. But you get the sense that there’s more to Barnes beneath his rebel facade. When they run into each other again at prom, the chemistry proves too strong to resist. Through the changing seasons, we watch their relationship unfold and deepen.

The two leads breathe life into their characters. Jenna Ortega imbues Remi with a likable spirit beneath her planner persona. We understand her drive while still sympathizing when doubts creep in. Percy Hynes White perfectly captures Barnes’ carefree vibe, but he also shows the hidden layers Remi inspires him to share. There’s an easy magic between the actors that makes their story compelling to follow.

Though they come from different paths, Remi and Barnes find they connect on a deeper level. They challenge each other in ways that allow new sides to emerge. The backdrop of an unpredictable year adds poignancy as they nervously take the leap towards an uncertain future, bonded by what they’ve awakened in one another against the odds.

Young Love’s Blossoming

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall draws inevitable comparisons to classics like Before Sunrise, which also centered on an unlikely romance between personalities on opposite paths. Both works show how chance meetings can ignite sparks, leaving room for fate.

We see this unfold through the changing seasons. Barnes and Remi connect on that train by fate, yet Remi keeps him at arm’s length—for now. As winter melts into spring, their paths intertwine again at prom in a moment that hinted their story wasn’t over. The film leaves space to wonder if some force is working below the surface.

As summer arrives, Remi starts opening up to Barnes and what he offers that’s fresh. Perspectives shift through experiencing a new side of each other. Remi’s rigid visions for the future soften, while Barnes’ present-mindedness finds greater depth. Their bond strengthens as things become less certain.

By fall, we reach the crossroads of whether their romance can bloom beyond high school. The blooming of young love against the uncertain seasons makes for a moving tale of two hearts learning to see each other and themselves in a warmer light. Fate or not, Remi and Barnes find meaning in each other as they grow.

Captivating Chemistry

This film belongs to Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White. They bring such life to Remi and Barnes, elevating what could’ve been stock characters. These two have a spark together that really pulls you in.

Ortega shines, depicting Remi’s driven spirit yet hidden soft side. She subtly shows there’s more beneath Remi’s intense focus, finding ways to surprise us. And Hynes White—there’s just something about him. He makes Barnes so enticing—a guy you want to know better. Even when the character falls flat, his charm keeps you invested.

It’s their chemistry that truly makes this romance work. You believe these two see something special in each other, even if they don’t quite see it themselves. Some of the most memorable moments are just the two sharing space—an intimate close-up capturing mysterious grins or longing looks. Their bond carries you through the thinner parts of the plot.

Without Ortega and Hynes White, this could’ve been forgettable. But their talent and connection imbue ordinary scenes with feeling. They make you fully buy into Remi and Barnes’ story against the odds. It’s due to these captivating leads that the film ultimately hits its sweet spot.

Struggling with Believability

When it comes to romance movies, you want the world they depict to feel real. Otherwise, it’s hard to get invested in the characters and their story. This is something Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall falters on at times.

Don’t get me wrong—the performances and their chemistry take you far. But some of the settings left me raising my brows. I mean, I get they likely didn’t have an epic budget. Still, a few more realistic details could’ve gone a long way.

The first red flag was learning it was all shot in Utah, not the East Coast like it depicts. Right away, something feels off. And sure enough, the subway scenes—that’s not what New Jersey Transit looks like. Penn Station too; it just didn’t seem quite right.

Even little things like them calling an impromptu sushi spot in the city without issue. In reality, places like that book months in advance. The neighborhoods it shows also don’t match what was described. Starts pulling you out of the experience.

It’s a shame, because the heart of the story rings true. A relationship faces challenges from coming from different worlds. Remi and Barnes wrestle with real issues we can relate to. But the unattainable version of New York reminded me that this was just a movie the whole time.

The performances do what they can to sail past flaws. It was nice following their season-long romance. But the setting constantly reminded me that I wasn’t fully there with the characters. More authentic locations may not have fleshed things out, but they sure would’ve helped sell me on their world.

Overall, while the leads do shine through, struggles with authenticity hold Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall back at times. With a bit more care on details, it could’ve been a whole lot easier to really feel for Remi and Barnes’ journey.

Finding the Familiar

Right from the opening scenes, Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall leans heavily on rom-com tropes you’ve seen many times before. On one hand, this gives viewers a sense of comfort; we know what to expect and what beats are coming. But at the same time, it makes the story feel a tad predictable.

We’ve all seen the “opposites attract” trope play out, where the good girl meets the carefree bad boy. Remi’s the ambitious overachiever, while Barnes floats through life. And of course, they just happen to meet cute on the train. It’s a reliable way to kick things off, but it left me wanting some fresh twists on the setup.

From there, the trusted tropes keep rolling. The will-they-won’t-they tension at the prom. Fits of jealousy spark drama between our lovers. Disapproving parents threaten to keep them apart. This film deploys them all like trusted weapons in the genre arsenal.

And look, I’m not saying these beats can’t work; they’re tried and true for a reason. But at times, winter, spring, summer, or fall feels like it’s checking boxes off a list instead of forging its own path. The moments that stand out most are unexpected, like Remi rejecting Barnes’ first advance.

With talents like Ortega and White on board, this romance had the potential to surprise in fun new ways. Their chemistry carries the familiar parts splendidly. Yet the script keeps them confined rather than fully unleashing their appeal.

I wonder if shifting some plot points or adding layers could have made Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall its own truly distinctive story. But instead, we see these characters navigate well-worn routines and resolutions. This is a bit of a missed chance for this fresh-faced couple and crew.

At its heart, it’s an endearing love story. But while comfort can be found in the familiar, truly great romances always surprise us too. This one could have benefited from breaking the mold in addition to playing with it.

Light on Surprises, Heavy on Charm

Does winter, spring, summer, or fall break much new ground? Not so much. But it delivers exactly what you hope for from a romantic comedy: feel-good vibes and swoony chemistry between the leads.

Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White are a total joy to watch together. They breathe life into Remi and Barnes, making their ups and downs feel genuine. You really root for these two kids to figure it all out. And whether they do long-term or not, it’s clear both have stellar careers ahead of them.

I wouldn’t call this movie deeply original. It taps the classic “opposites attract” trope and hits most of the expected beats. The story flows smoothly, but it lacks real surprises. And the production design fails to fully transport you to New Jersey.

Still, director Tiffany Paulsen shows a deft hand at romance. She cultivates just the right mix of funny, sweet, and sentimental. You feel energized just watching Remi and Barnes banter and flirt across the changing seasons.

So while it may not stand out from the pack, winter, spring, summer, or fall deliver comforting date night fare. The chemistry between Ortega and Hynes White makes their scenes a delight. Even if the story is light on surprises, it’s heavy on enough charm to satisfy fans of the genre.

The Review

Winter Spring Summer or Fall

7 Score

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall is a charming young romance with plenty of feel-good moments thanks to strong performances by Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White. While it doesn't break new ground structurally or thematically, fans of the genre will find plenty to like in its breezy, easy-watching nature.


  • Strong performances from Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White that carry likable characters
  • Cute romantic moments that capture the spirit of young love
  • Its breezy, casual tone makes it comfortable viewing.


  • A predictable storyline that doesn't break new ground
  • Shallow or underdeveloped supporting characters
  • Production design fails to effectively portray settings.

Review Breakdown

  • Overall 7
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