The Seasons: Four Love Stories is a sweet series of short films about the trials and tribulations of love through different eras of life. Each story is a positive, but honest, depiction of the subject. It is split into the four seasons, aligning with the age of each short’s central characters: Summer follows two young lovers living on their own; Autumn, an older couple rediscovering their roles as they move out of middle age; Winter, an elderly couple recognizing what they mean to one another; and, finally, Spring, a depiction of an ill-fated childhood crush. These are thoughtful, positive stories about love, eschewing drama in favor of characters overcoming their worries to listen and learn. Maybe that sounds saccharine to some, but the cumulative effect makes for a romantic film that has something to say about the ever-changing nature of love without descending into unnecessary dramatics.

Frankly, there’s been enough drama in our world over the past few years to make up for it, and writer-director Paul Schwartz leans into our real-world tribulations to create a quick dose of reality among these little stories. The first story, Summer, takes place in 2020 and features Nick (Mike Keller) and Sasha (Katya Preiser), a couple thrust together by necessity at the start of the pandemic who have to work out their differences if they’re going to stay together. Nick is an uptight business type while Sasha is a free-spirited dancer. They moved in together before they really had a chance to date. The pandemic changed everything for everyone, and it’s a novel use of the real world to quickly unite this odd couple. Each subsequent story leans into the way 2021 and 2022 have felt like periods of great change for a lot of people, particularly those forced to re-evaluate their lives in the wake of a once-in-a-lifetime cultural crisis.

Certain recurring characters also link the stories in small ways, but the overarching tone of Schwartz’s storytelling is the most important asset. His thoughtful approach also extends to his visual filmmaking, which creatively uses the seasons and associated settings to give each chapter its own mood. Summer, for instance, features a lot of gorgeous outdoor settings with characters who loudly express themselves. Winter, on the other hand, is an indoor story about two old friends reconnecting after the pandemic, with a more nostalgic and introspective tone. It’s a clever, efficient use of the last few years.

As we approach the start of the most depressing time of year (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), it’s worth considering turning on something other than serial-killer documentaries and other crap the major streaming services funnel into everyone’s brains. It’s lovely to find a small film like The Seasons, which has a positive outlook on all the changes everyone has shared over the past few years. It’s a well-made, solidly acted, beautifully shot look at the way love can persevere in the face of difficult challenges.