My Summer of Love Review
It’s a long hot summer in Yorkshire, and fifteen-year-old Mona (Natalie Press) is helping her brother Phil (Paddy Considine) run a pub. Phil is an ex-con who became born again while in prison, and he would rather turn the pub into a place of worship. Tamsin (Emily Blunt) is home from her posh public school. The two girls meet, and an intense bond develops between them…
Helen Cross’s novel was set in a very specific time and place, namely Yorkshire in 1984, with references to the miners’ strike, the Yorkshire Ripper and the fear of nuclear holocaust in the background. Writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski makes a few other changes: Mona’s obese teenage brother Porkchop becomes the older and certainly leaner Phil, who is involved in a plan to raise a giant cross on a nearby hill. But the basic storyline of the novel is pretty much intact, including a plot twist (which I won’t reveal) concerning a member of Tamsin’s family, which puts Tamsin’s behaviour into a different perspective. All three lead characters are trying to escape their situation: Phil through God, Mona through a growing friendship/love affair with Tamsin. Tamsin herself, who may or may not have been expelled from school, uses Mona as a method of escaping her dysfunctional family life, absent parents, elder sister dead of anorexia.
My Summer of Love is a film where not a great deal “happens” on the surface – though a lot does underneath – so will certainly not be for everyone. Pawlikowski, whose previous film was the impressive Last Resort, conjures up a vivid atmosphere of summer heat with the help of DP Ryszard Lenczewski, and gets fine work out of his three principal actors. Considine, who only a few weeks ago gave us a scarily intense study of revenge in Dead Man’s Shoes, shows how versatile an actor he is with an equally intense though quite different performance here. But, excellent as he is, Considine yields the stage to the two young lead actresses, both of whom are very good indeed. The film only really falters towards the end, as if it realised it has to resolve itself somehow but can’t quite carry it off.