If you discount modern British comedies and gangster films – and you should, really – there’s one other subject that thrives in British cinema, and that’s misery – the misery of a deprived childhood, a lower working class upbringing, more often than not in the north of the country. For some filmmakers, it’s an opportunity to point out the injustices in the system, class inequality, regional deprivation and associated prejudices, the pernicious impact of such an environment not only on the individual, but as an indictment of the society we live in today. For others, misery is simply a valid subject in its own right and reason enough to make a film and get it funded. Kenny Glenaan’s Summer fits into the latter category.
It’s a well-made film certainly, with strong performances to bring a note of intensity to the situation, principally from of Robert Carlyle as Sean, a young man with learning difficulties and Steve Evets as Daz, his partner in crime since childhood who is now suffering from a number of serious ailments, principally cirrhosis, and may only have a few weeks left to live. As Sean reflects back on the childhood they shared together, his dyslexia and the difficulties that the school’s failure to diagnose caused the boy, he also remembers one perfect summer with his childhood sweetheart, Kate, before his problems took the two boys off in another direction of rage, violence and delinquency.
The connection between upbringing and one’s future is clearly and obviously established, Daz’s problems being passed on in the present day to his own son Daniel, but apart from that - and even that isn’t much - Summer doesn’t have a whole lot else to say. Any attempts to achieve a greater dynamic or poignancy between the past and present are negated by a relentlessly downbeat monotonous electronica guitar-noise score that weighs on the film like lead, overpowering to the extent that it often drowns out the effing-and-blinding peppered dialogue that passes for a script. Depressing.
The Disc: A basically barebones disc, with only the film’s Trailer as an extra feature, the transfer of a 79 minute film onto a dual-layer disc at least allows for a fine, solid presentation of the film. The video transfer is excellent and two audio mixes are included. The 5.1 surround track distributes the sound nicely, but dialogue – a bizarre mishmash of regional accents – often tends to get lost in the mix. The hard of hearing subtitles included then are not just welcome, but often essential, particularly if you live outside the UK.