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My Summer of Love Review

By Shawn McKenzie 06/17/2005

Director Paul Pavlikovskyís My Summer of Love is an adequate movie, but with an unrealistic love story between two hot girls and an end that I didnít like, I canít say that it is one of my favorite movies of the year.

Mona (Nathalie Press), a 16-year-old working-class girl who lives in a Yorkshire village with her brother Phil (Paddy Considine), hasnít had a great summer.  Her older boyfriend Ricky (Dean Andrews) has recently dumped her, her moped has no motor, and Phil has just now converted to Christianity to escape his criminal past.  Mona, whose real name is Lisa (after Mona Lisa; the ďMonaĒ part comes from the fact that she moans a lot), and Phil live in his pub named The Swan, but when he found God, he poured all of the alcohol down the drain and turned the pub into a place for prayer meetings.  One day while lying down in a field, Mona meets Tasmin (Emily Blunt) riding on her horse.  She is a bad girl who was recently suspended from her private girlsí school for being a bad influence.   She gives Mona an open invitation to visit her in her familyís upper-crust mansion, which Mona later accepts.  They start a friendship and get to know one another.  Tasmin finds out that Monaís mother died of cancer and her father just left.  In her mind, Phil has left too, because he is being a little too fanatical and is currently devoting himself to constructing a gigantic cross to plant on the hill overlooking the village.  Mona finds out that Tasminís actress mother (Lynette Edwards) is overseas and her father (Paul Antony-Barber) is having an affair with his secretary.  She also finds out that Tasminís sister, Sadie (Kathryn Sumner), died of anorexia.  Tasmin plays the cello, listens to Edith Piaf records, and drinks a lot of red wine.  She gives Mona one of Sadieís dresses and dances around drinking and listening to music.  For fun, they decide to confront the other people in their lives.  They decide to throw a rock into the window of the car of Tasminís father, and then they spy on Ricky, who it turns out has a wife (Michelle Byrne) and a daughter.  Later, after Phil has already planted the cross on the hillside, Tasmin exposes Philís hypocrisy by seducing him, which makes him even madder.  All the while, Mona and Tasmin begin falling in love.  When Mona finds out some secrets about Tasminís past though, their relationship is threatened.

The movie, loosely based on Helen Crossís 2001 novel of the same name, is a lot like 1994ís Heavenly Creatures (minus the fantasy element) or other forbidden tales of lesbian love.  While Creatures may have been fresh in 1994, this movie is stale today.  I just find it hard to believe that two extremely good-looking girls (who donít even come close to looking like they are sixteen) would be conveniently drawn to one another.  Why is it that we canít have average (or even ugly) girls fall in love?  That would be more likely in the real world; the scenario in this movie is more likely to happen in a lesbian porno.

The ending (which I wonít reveal) was another sticking point for me.  Once Mona finds out Tasminís secretÖthe movie just ends.  There is no resolution, and I doubt that this is the kind of movie thatíll have a sequel.

Acting-wise, the movie is good.  Press and Blunt are relative newcomers, and Considine is getting notice for his role in the Ron Howard movie Cinderella Man.  They all do a fine job here.  This movie is pretty much a three-person movie, because none of the other actors are in it long enough to explore their characters entirely.

My Summer of Love isnít the best movie Iíve seen in 2005, but it wasnít one of the worst either.  It won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film of the Year this year, and it has won several other awards as well.  Iíve never seen the Pavlikovsky movie that other critics rave about, 2001ís Last Resort, but looking over the plot description, it looks more interesting than this movie.  If you have nothing else to do and you feel like checking out an indie movie at your local indie theater, this movie would be okay.  Otherwise, Iíd recommend renting it on DVD when it comes out.

Get the soundtrack score composed by Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory:

Get the novel by Helen Cross that the movie is loosely based on:

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