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flick pick | My Summer of Love 2004
Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski
Written by: Helen Cross (novel), Pawel Pawlikowski (screenplay), Michael Wynne (screenplay)
Starring: Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  artsy-fartsy, nostalgic
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis In the idyllic Yorkshire countryside, two teenage girls from very different worlds become unlikely best friends, and then more, for one brief summer. Mona is a rough-edged tomboy who's lost both of her parents and is bored out of her mind with her quiet country life. She and her older brother Phil live in the pub her parents used to run. These days, though, the alcohol's all gone, as Phil has returned from a prison stint having found Jesus, and promptly dumped the liquor down the drain, then turned their family home into a worship center for fellow born-again Christians. While Phil runs Bible meetings and fervently praises the Lord at every turn, Mona steadfastly refuses his attempts to impose his beliefs upon her. She spends as much time outside of the house as she can, traipsing around town with her rusty old moped, which she has to wheel around on foot because she can't afford to get a motor for it. It's during one of these escapes that she runs into Tamsin. Beautiful, polished, and very, very wealthy, Tamsin's on break from boarding school, and spending the summer there in Yorkshire at her family's palatial estate. Though Tamsin's parents are both alive, they're mostly absent from Tamsin's life. Tamsin tells Mona that she's welcome to visit anytime, and despite the differences in their backgrounds and that each is a little wary of the other, the two girls soon find themselves spending all their days and nights together. Each is intrigued by the other's differences; eventually, Tamsin reveals that, like Mona, she's lost someone close to her, namely an older sister who died of anorexia. They become completely inseparable, and soon, the attraction turns intensely physical. Then one day, Phil turns up at Tamsin's house looking for his sister. He runs into Tamsin instead. In her interactions with Phil, Tamsin begins revealing a darker, more twisted side to her cool, sure beauty, and Mona's perfect summer of love begins to come to a close.

Review There's so little that actually happens in My Summer of Love that after watching it, I had a hard time putting my finger on exactly what this movie was about, and consequently, why I liked it so much. It's not really a love story or a coming-of-age tale, though things seem to be leading in both those directions at first; instead, it ends up feeling a bit like looking through the snapshots from somebody's distant past, as they point out things they did and people that were important to them at the time, and you realize how little you can really know about a person just from looking at their face. Though My Summer of Love could probably reasonably be described as character-driven, I didn't leave the film feeling a great attachment to either Mona or Tamsin, despite the fact that the characters are exceedingly well-played by stars Nathalie Press and Emily Blunt (indeed, the acting throughout the movie is top-notch; Paddy Considine as Phil is also fantastic). No, what lingered was just kind of a general feeling of how it felt to be young, trying to figure out who you are and what you want and where your life is heading, and not having any answers to any of these questions -- something that's scary and kind of wonderful all at the same time. The movie feels like a poem more than prose, and like poetry, its ultimate meaning is somewhat elusive, and decidedly open to interpretation. But it's this quality that gives the movie its hazy fragile beauty and strangely hypnotic charm. And in the end, who cares whether there's a big message or not… when the delivery is this lovely and this intriguing. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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