My Summer of Love (UK; 86 min.)

directed by: Pawel Pavlikovsky
starring: Nathalie Press; Emily Blunt; Paddy Considine
My Summer of Love
Michael says: "MY SUMMER OF LOVE revolves around two teenaged girls who are drawn together over the course of one summer as kindred spirits who have suffered disappointment especially from the men in their lives. Director Pawel Pavlikowsky, who handled the trials of a young mother emigrating from Russia to England only to be disappointed when her fiancé does not show up to meet her in LAST RESORT so well, tackles the female point of view again with a deft touch. The dreamy English countryside, bursting with Heather and golden sun is strangely reminiscent of VIRGIN SUICIDES while the hidden turmoil layered over by the sudden passion of teen love reminded me of melodrama of LOST & DELIRIOUS. In both cases Pavlokowsky uses a lighter brushstroke that serves his particular story better.

"The central figure is Mona, a working class girl who is disappointed by the return of her brother from prison and his newly born again religion. Brother Phil (Paddy Considine; also from LAST RESORT) is the only family Mona has left, and he has decided to turn the pub they live over into a spiritual haven. Mona is drawn to the mysterious Tamsin and the two start a friendship based on helping each other out of the frustrating situations each finds themselves in. Tamsin is ignored by her father and is spending her summer basically alone in the family manse. When Mona tells Tamsin about the loss of her beloved brother to religion, and that her mother died of cancer, Tamsin replies that her beloved sister Sadie died of anorexia. The two help each other their respective griefs and slowly their friendship grows into a physical passion and fairy tale love. Unfortunately, unlike many fairy tales, things aren’t necessarily what they seem, and trouble looms in paradise.

"Nathalie Press (Mona) and Emily Blunt (Tamsin) have an easy chemistry, and handle their roles well. Press is particularly convincing as her plucky tomboy falls in love. Focus Features is distributing this film, so it’s bound to get a better run that Shooting Gallery’s LAST RESORT. The film opens on June 17, and I highly recommend it. 4 cats"

Peg says: "Director Pawel Paulikovsky’s high-def coming-of-age film is set in an anonymous Yorkshire town. Based on Helen Cross’ novel, the story is fairy-tale simple: working class Mona (Nathalie Press) meets bohemian Tamsin (Emily Blunt) and infatuation blossoms. Mona’s ex-con brother Phil (Paddy Considine) is a religious fanatic; Tamsin’s father is a philanderer and her sister Sadie is dead. Mona naively and willingly escapes to Tamsin’s ivy-covered estate, where holding seances, discussing Nietszche over hashish, and swimming nude in cold streams fills the days until a shocking confrontation with Phil convinces Mona to leave town with her new lover. The film’s final minutes wane predictably, but the journey there is funny and steamy, thanks to unnervingly good performances by Press and Blunt. Ryszard Lenczewski’s flawless photography captures the moors in pinks and golds, crafting a dreamy northern landscape that is, of course, both beautiful and stifling. This lush, slightly-flawed film feels and looks a lot like a British HEAVENLY CREATURES or FUN, fused and re-imagined by Lynne Ramsay, Harmony Korine and Diane Kurys. 3 cats"
Hilary says: "I’m not so much on this one, but a Best Actress nom for Natalie Press. 3 cats"
Diane says: "It is problematic that the girls are 17 according to the script, act like 14, and occasionally look like 30. But I took great satisfaction in the comeuppance scene. Press does a good job as someone who's new at friendship--trying on the sympathetic face, the knowing face.... It is not friendship, but betrayal, that helps her to grow up. 3 cats"
Janet says: "This tale of two young women in the English countryside who become obsessed with one another reminded me of Peter Jackson's HEAVENLY CREATURES. However, I kept wondering how old the characters are supposed to be, and how old the actresses were, because the whimsy and intensity would have worked much better if they had been 15.

"There is a long period in the film in which there is no conflict, but things spark up much better when a triangle develops with one woman's born-again Christian brother. (See this if you like movies in which people go way overboard with anything they happen to be interested in---no lack of commitment to Sparkle Motion here.) A number of scenes or pieces of dialogue that seemed heavy-handed or obvious, and which I loudly questioned to Diane, made sense by the end of the film. One of the characters is intended to be something of a cipher, but I still felt that the actress could have given her role a more layered treatment. Acting noms for Nathalie Press and especially Paddy Considine. Aside from some long outdoor shots that were blurry and accompanied by cheesy music, the photography is innovative and the setting beautiful. 3 cats"

Bruce says: "***SPOILERS***

"This film has started an ongoing dialogue between me and the friend with whom I saw it. The conversation began with a statement, 'The film was as much about class as anything else, wasn’t it?' 'It wasn’t about class at all, it was about the hold that a person with the power of corruption has over innocence.' 'Let‘s face it, the poorer girl was not a bit all that innocent.' 'Well, perhaps we should say the hold a person with the power of control has over the impressionable.' 'Could the situation have been the same if the poorer girl from the lower class had been the corruptor?' And so it went with neither of us gaining much ground. In the end I don’t think our banter makes much of a difference because director Pawel Pawlikowski is not judgmental in the way we would like him to be. He is simply telling a story of two girls who meet one summer and how their relationship evolves and ends. His story certainly is fodder for a lively conversation.

"In the beginning, Mona (Nathalie Press) is traveling through the beautiful countryside on her motorless motorbike. Tamsin (Emily Blunt) is riding her horse back to her family‘s country estate. For a brief second the two girls connect in a celestial way. Tamsin says something like 'stop by and see me if you get bored.' Mona does do but out of loneliness and confusion, not boredom. Tamsin buys a motor for Mona’s bike and the two girls ride around discovering great swimming holes and great spots for just reflecting on life.

"Before long the two girls have switched to a more personal level, describing feelings about Mona’s mother dying of cancer and Tamsin’s gorgeous anorexic sister who no one could save. Mona tell about her dreams of a future husband who might work in abattoirs while she churns out babies, before her life is reduced to sitting around waiting for menopause or cancer.

"The girls follow Tasmin’s father’s car to his mistress’ house. Mona picks up a gnome from the garden and throws it through the windshield of Tamsin’s fathers car. Mona’s brother Phil (Paddy Considine) is a born again publican who pours all the pub’s booze down the drain before he converts the pub into a house of worship. The congregation has built a gigantic cross that they plan to rise on a hill. The girls go with the evangelicals just to see what all the fuss is about. Tamsin has learned that Mona was involved with a guy named Ricky, a man’s man kind of guy. She entices Mona to perform a simulation of her and her former boyfriend Ricky having sex. She decides that Ricky’s wife should get her share of the performances, too. Tamsin rings the doorbell and indignantly points out to Ricky’s wife that Ricky was the father of Mona’s four month old aborted fetus. When Phil comes to the big summer house to get Mona, Tamsin flirts with him, gets him hot and bothered then makes fun of him.

"In between all their antics the girls listen to Piaf and Borodin while they kiss, make love tenderly, try on dead Sadie’s clothes and wonder what their future will have in store. Mona’s brother goes off the deep end and ties Mona up to punish her for her sins. He kicks her hard when she is down. When she escapes she runs to Tamsin who is being fussed over by her mother as they pack for Tamsin’s back-to-school journey. Suddenly the deceased Sadie rounds the corner and says 'take off my top,' forcing Mona to exit the country estate in her camisole. Shamed, humiliated and hopelessly in love, Mona realizes she has been a simple diversion to relieve Tamsin’s summer boredom, nothing more. When Tamsin arrives at their secret place Mona is deep in thought. As they wrestle, they fall into the water and Tamsin’s head goes under. Will Mona let her surface or help her drown?

"Emily Blunt is a beguiling actress. She can handle mixed emotions with cunning and style and yet convey little outward emotion. Nathalie Press conveys the right mix of being vulnerable with a smidgen of naiveté tossed in to make her believably grounded in small village life. Paddy Considine (IN AMERICA) is convincing as he claims his problems with the law and prison life are over now that he has found Jesus. He is no longer angry with the world…until he discovers even more about the world he doesn’t like - then he reverts back to his non-religious behavior.

"MY SUMMER OF LOVE is a bittersweet film rife with disappointment, genuine love and foolish passion. The country house is gorgeous, covered with ivy and surrounded by a delicate sapling fence. Almost anyone could talk me into spending a summer there. 4.5 cats"