Monday, November 11, 2013

My Summer of Love

Originally Written and Posted at on 6/4/07 w/ Additional Edits.

Based on the novel by Helen Cross, My Summer of Love is the story about a rebellious young woman who begins an affair with a young rich woman who is staying at the British countryside during the summer. Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski and screenplay by Pawlikowski and Michael Wynne, the film explores the world of lesbian relationships as well as a young woman trying to find love while dealing with her born-again brother. Starring Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, and Paddy Considine. My Summer of Love is a heartfelt yet unconventional love story.

In the English countryside, a young woman named Mona (Nathalie Press) is riding on her motorbike that has no motor as she lays down on a hill. Coming onto the road on a horse is another young woman named Tamsin (Emily Blunt) who looks at Mona where the two walk on the road with Tamsin on her horse. They engage into a conversation where Mona learns that Tasmin lives in a posh home up on the hill above her town. Mona comes home to learn that her former criminal brother Phil (Paddy Considine) is getting rid of all the alcohol in their pub home. Phil has just become a Born-again Christian much to Mona's displeasure. With a boyfriend named Ricky (Dean Andrews), Mona's life is going nowhere and her brother's newfound behavior only increases her alienation.

One day, Mona decides to go to the hill-top home of Tamsin where she finds her playing cello. Immediately, Tamsin and Mona strike up a friendship as Tamsin claims she's still mourning the death of her sister Sadie (Kathryn Summer) while feeling estranged by her parents. Tamsin introduces Mona to Nietzsche while Mona learns that Tamsin's father (Paul Anthony-Barber) is having an affair with his secretary. The friendship gets more intense as Mona shows Tamsin a small-like pond surrounded by rocks in the middle of a forest. The beauty impresses Tamsin as the two's relationship becomes more romantic. Even as Tamsin lets Mona wear her late sister&#146s clothes. Phil meanwhile, begins to see what is going on as Tamsin buys Mona a motor for her bike where the two discuss men including Mona's now ex-boyfriend Ricky.

After learning that Ricky has another life, Tamsin decides to cause trouble. Phil finally comes to Tamsin's home asking Mona to come to prayer meeting where a cross is to be erected on a hill. Tamsin decides to come much to Mona's reluctance as Phil's talks about God and his past life intrigues Tamsin. Though neither women believe that Phil is actually Born-again, they play a mystical game which lead them to the empty room of Sadie and find mushrooms. The relationship intensifies as Phil becomes more concerned as Tamsin attempts to seduce in which, Mona sees Phil's real behavior and only blurs things. Even as Mona becomes more desperate to be with Tamsin as she is forced to clash with her brother's behavior and reality.

The film is really about a lesbian relationship that becomes intense and troubles one's brother. The film is also about loneliness and manipulation through some kind of philosophies and such. The film starts off in the introduction of Mona and Tamsin and Mona's own alienation by her brother and the town around her. The second act is about the relationship between the two young women and its intensity. By the third act, it becomes more about Tamsin and her ability to play with people's mind, notably Phil. Then in the final moments of the film, an element of surprise occurs that really becomes a shocker in relation to the film's entire plot and such. When seen for the first time, it's a shock but loses its element of surprise somewhat after repeated viewing.

Despite that flaw in the film's story, director Pawel Pawlikowski does create some wonderful scenery and compositions. Mostly with a hand-held camera to give the film an energy and realism that isn't seen much in American films which has always been too technical at times. Pawlikowski just goes for emotions in capturing close-ups and scenes. There's also elements in some of the film's exterior settings that feature some wonderfully, naturalistic shots that is obviously inspired by the works of Terrence Malick. Even in those scenes, the film has a very moody, dreamlike feel that is reminiscent to the work of Sofia Coppola. The result is a unique film that is colorful and dreamy along with wonderful wide shots of scenery that is wonderfully shown by Pawlikowski.

Cinematographer Ryszard Lenczewski does some beautiful, colorful work to the film's dreamy look with its high-octane, brightened colors in some of the film&#146s exterior settings and such. Production designer John Stevenson and art director Netty Chapman do an excellent job in creating the exotic look of Tamsin's room. Costume designer Julian Day also shines with the film's costumes with street-clothes of Mona to the more exotic look that Tamsin has. Editor David Charap brings a nice style to the film's pacing while the cuts reveal the intensity of the film's emotion in the relationship between the two women. Sound editor Simon Gershon does amazing work in capturing some of the film's exterior atmosphere of the forest as well as the sounds of cars and motorbikes on hills.

The film's score and soundtrack is assembled by the duo of Goldfrapp in both Allison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory. The duo's score is moody and haunting to convey the film's dream like feel. The duo even contribute a song that opens the film that plays to its exotic, electronic feel. The rest of the soundtrack is a mix of tango cuts, Asian pop music, a classical performance of The Swan performed by Emily Blunt on cello, and a famous song by the legendary Edith Piaf, who is mentioned throughout the film.

The film's cast features small appearances from Paul Anthony-Barber, Kathryn Summers, Michelle Byrne as an acquaintance of Ricky, and Lynette Edwards as Tamsin's mother. Dean Andrews has a small, memorable role as Ricky, Mona's ex-boyfriend who doesn't treat her well and such. Paddy Considine gives a phenomenal performance as Phil, a Born-again Christian who tries to deal with his sister's newfound relationship and his own troubled past.

Nathalie Press is wonderful as the naive, street-smart Mona who is seeking some kind of companionship in her lonely town while dealing with the new life of her brother. Press, who looks a lot like a young Sissy Spacek is amazing to watch as she has great chemistry with co-star Emily Blunt. Blunt gives a fascinating yet complex performance as the worldly Tamsin. Blunt brings a sadness and ethereal tone her performance as she tries to play one minds while being a wonderful companion to Press. It's two great performances from the young actresses that is the highlight of the film.

While it's not perfect, My Summer of Love is still a wonderfully dreamy, intense film from Pawel Pawlikowski. Fans of gay/lesbian dramas will no doubt consider this film a gem while it has something to offer for mainstream audiences. Even as it showcases something that is unique as well as not playing by the rules. In the end, My Summer of Love is truly a gem worth watching.

Pawel Pawlikowski Films: (Last Resort (2000 film)) - (The Woman in the Fifth) - Ida - Cold War

© thevoid99 2013


s. said...

Glad you enjoyed the film! I feel this is Blunt's best work - she was so well cast and fascinating to watch.

thevoid99 said...

It's been some years since I've seen it but man, it's such a good film. I also think it's Emily's best work.

ruth said...

Very cool Steven. I like the spiritual aspect, and I also love Blunt's work so I definitely want to see this one!

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-Go see it. It's a really good film.