movie film review | chris tookey

My Summer of Love

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  My Summer of Love Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
8.00 /10
Nathalie Press , Emily Blunt , Paddy Considine
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Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski (aka Pavel Pavlikowski)
Written by: Pawel Pawlikowski (aka Pavel Pavlikowski) and Michael Wynne, freely adapted from a novel by Helen Cross

Released: 2004
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: UK
Length: 86

A coming-of-age story about a gawky, lonely, freckled teenager (Natalie Press, pictured left) living in a nameless Yorkshire valley. She’s Mona by name and nature – and she has much to moan about. She’s living above a disused public house with her elder brother (Paddy Considine), a former hard man and convict who’s found God but still has a dangerous look in his eye. Not so much born again as bored again, Mona becomes fascinated by a girl of about her own age, Tamsin (Emily Blunt, pictured right) who’s beautiful, rich, and spoiled. Tamsin prides herself on being bohemian, and the film is at its best when it captures the peculiar pretentiousness of intelligent adolescent girls trying on new identities to see if they will fit. “Have you read Nietsche?” she asks Mona airily, when she must know that Mona can barely read. “You should read him. Or Freud.” Mona becomes first charmed, then infatuated; and the relationship takes on an overtly lesbian tinge. Whereupon Tamsin decides to show up the religious hypocrisy of Mona’s brother by leading him on sexually, and Mona has to reconsider whether Tamsin is taking their relationship as seriously as she is.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Pawel Pawlikowski’s follow-up to his critical success Last Resort is both the most interesting film of the week and the most boring. If that sounds like a paradox, let me explain. The film has an impressive grasp of the girls’ relationship, but doesn’t develop it swiftly enough, so that the audience can see how it is developing far too early. The hints of violence and disaster don’t really materialise, either, so we’re left feeling at the end that not too much has really been at stake.

Not only does Mona seem terribly dopey; her brother’s mood-swings are too irrational to take seriously. A film that seems at first to about folie a deux, like Peter Jackson’s marvellous Beautiful Creatures, ends up going nowhere interesting; and the audience ends up disappointed and ever so slightly cheated.

Pawlikowski’s first film, Last Resort, was trite and overlong but there was more at stake – it was about a young Russian mother and her small son seeking asylum in Britain. This film is so event-free that it’s almost like a shaggy dog story; and the background of Christian evangelism brings back memories of Oranges Are The Only Fruit on TV, which had this film beaten as regards wit and freshness of observation, not to mention density of plot.

My Summer of Love shows Pawlikowski to be a film-maker of visual flair, and he has the ability to draw realistic performances out of inexperienced actors; but he doesn’t yet appear to have anything important or personal to say. He’s an interesting film-maker, but I fear most people who are not professionally involved in talent-spotting would find his films intensely boring.

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