In the Yorkshire countryside, working-class tomboy Mona meets the exotic, pampered Tamsin. Over the summer season, the two young women discover they have much to teach one another, and much to explore together.
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Cécile de France,
An uptight and conservative woman, working on tenure as a literacy professor at a large urban university, finds herself strangely attracted to a free-spirited, liberal woman who works at a local carnival that comes to town.
A tale of obsession and deception, and the struggle for love and faith in a world where both seem impossible. The film charts the emotional and physical hothouse effects that bloom one summer for two young women: Mona, behind a spiky exterior, hides an untapped intelligence and a yearning for something beyond the emptiness of her daily life; Tamsin is well-educated, spoiled and cynical. Complete opposites, each is wary of the other's differences when they first meet, but this coolness soon melts into mutual fascination, amusement and attraction. Adding volatility is Mona's older brother Phil, who has renounced his criminal past for religious fervor - which he tries to impose upon his sister. Mona, however, is experiencing her own rapture. "We must never be parted," Tamsin intones to Mona but can Mona completely trust her?Written by
Roger Ebert gave the film 3/4 stars describing it as "a movie that is about being an age, then coming out of age." See more »
I just felt so useless. She was my one sister, my beautiful sister and she started to turn into this monster. These bones on her body just started to jut out like someone had stuck daggers under her skin. And her hair, she started growing hair all over her body - it was like a sort of dense fur, like a werewolf. And she stopped smiling, she couldn't smile anymore because she was throwing up all the time and the vomit, acid made her teeth go all yellow and she just stopped smiling and stopped ...
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My Summer of Love is clearly meant to be provocative, sexy and a little dangerous, a story of amour fou, but it never registers in a way that really makes you sit up and take notice. Its most striking quality is the visual; its images are beautifully lit and brightly colored, its heroines coming across like the two most luscious Seventeen Magazine cover girls you ever saw. Beyond this, though, the film is strictly pedestrian, a teasing, somewhat low-keyed delineation of a love affair that doesn't have a chance in hell.
The movie is set in a dreadfully quaint British hamlet tucked into a picturesque valley, the kind of place where nothing ever happens, where boredom begins crushing the restless like the gravity on Jupiter. Mona (Nathalie Press), a red-head who looks like she could be Cate Blanchett's younger sister, lives here with her brother Phil (Paddy Considine), an ex-con; they used to run a pub, The Swan, but Phil has been on a Jesus kick since getting out of jail, and has decided to convert the place into a temple for him and his bible-thumping friends. Out on the countryside Mona meets Tamsin (Emily Blunt), who summers in a huge vine-encrusted manor-house with her wealthy parents. Tamsin is just as bored as Mona is; the two start hanging out together, casually, Tamsin teaching Mona about Nietzsche and Edith Piaf, and Mona showing Tamsin her favorite places out in the woods, but their relationship gets progressively more serious, and weirder, until reality threatens to intervene.
Director Pawil Pawlikowski knows what his movie is about, knows who his characters are and how they feel about each other, but is never able to put all this across with any real conviction. The movie looks fantastic, and is structured well, and has good actors in it who seem to know their parts, but it somehow never adds up to anything. The material just seems so damn familiar; the whole movie gives you a mild case of deja vu. Mona and Tamsin could easily be the heroines of Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures, a movie that takes you deep inside a strange, doomed relationship, much deeper than My Summer of Love with its fashion-spread visuals, its lukewarm character dynamic. Heavenly Creatures benefited greatly from Jackson's manic direction, his ability to visualize, strikingly, the inner-lives of his characters, and give the whole thing a steamrolling narrative momentum. My Summer of Love is much more laid-back than this; it doesn't have that kind of forward push, and doesn't have that kind of heat. It seems to want to be hallucinatory - there are a few crazy angles in it, and moments of dreaminess - but like everything else in the picture this hallucinogenic quality never gets beyond the nascent stage, never comes to fruition.
The two lead actresses, Nathalie Press and Emily Blunt, are a pair of interesting physical specimens at least, and project a certain oddness that the director never manages to pick up and run with. The girl who plays Tamsin, Blunt, has these big, druggy eyes, and a fabulous body which she displays without a hint of self-consciousness; Tamsin is spoiled to the point where nothing impresses her anymore, where other people are just play-things, and Blunt is able to convey the right unimpressed, conniving, weirdly watchful quality. The other lead, Press, has a slightly feral thing going on, but is cursed by a face that isn't very open to the camera. The movie is supposed to be all about this untamed passion, this sense of two lonely souls finding each other, but you never feel much of this alleged turmoil, largely because Press is such a veiled actress, and doesn't generate the kind of dynamic with Blunt that would really get things steamed up. We never get pulled that deep into the relationship between Mona and Tamsin, never get very far beyond their surface emotions, their sexual curiosity and general boredom at life. The movie is solidly-made but irrelevant.
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