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"My Summer of Love"

Directed by Pawel Pawlikowsky.
Written by Pawel Pawlikowsky and Michael Wynne.  Based on the novel by Helen Cross.
Starring Natalie Press, Emily Blunt and Paddy Considine.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  6/24/05


I've been trying to take in more exports lately, and the pub on "My Summer of Love"--winner of the British form of the Oscars for Best Domestic Film--was strong, so I figured, "Hey, it's won some awards, it's got Paddy Considine [the dad from "In America"], and it's a lesbian drama...I'll hang out!"

After seeing the flick with the Jellybean, his wife Colleen and "Mr." Stokes last night, I have to say that while "My Summer of Love" offers some great moments and does create a very surreal, dreamy atmosphere, it ultimately gets its love story going too slowly and ends without the kind of punch I was hoping for.

Mona (Natalie Press) returns to her small hometown where her brother Phil (Considine), an ex-con that has found God in leaving the joint, has turned their pub/apartment into a religious sanctuary.  Immediately looking for an alternative to hang with, she meets Tamsin (Emily Blunt), a woman home for the summer from school and someone else eager to have a playbuddy for her two months on holiday.  The women spend an inordinate amount of time together, and when one thing leads to can smell trouble a mile away!

I liked both the Mona and Tamsin characters; they make for a cool twosome, with the dark edges of Tamsin clearly turning Mona into a more devilish type as the film wears on...although I did like the way the characters are interchangeable as the more dominant personality, as opposed to having Mona always be the suck-up to Tamsin.  The dialogue is sparse but is occasionally hilarious; I especially loved the references to "The Exorcist" that pop up in the film's second half, and some of the religious group scenes reminded me of the best parts of "Saved!", the Mandy Moore religious comedy from a couple years ago.  Considine is great--playing his newfound savior well with the crackling undercurrent of the violence of a man that is just about to rediscover his past.

But, we all agreed afterwards that the film is slow-going early, and Jellybean also added that the idea by director Pawel Pawlikowski to start the film with a scene from the middle--as opposed to the end--didn't make much sense or add anything to the overall product.  The film is too quiet at times--I think it was Gordon who said "I've never been so aware of the sound of gravel"--and with a single song that plays intermittently throughout the film, it gives you a bit of that "Eyes Wide Shut" effect of having a spooky chorus but things aren't all that spooky!  And, the ending of "My Summer of Love"...well, let's just say that I was disappointed.  You have to see the film to know what I mean and I won't blow it for you here.

Overall, a good movie, but not great.  Due to its length (about 85 minutes), you'll feel good about this if you drop $6 on it.  Otherwise, wait for video.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09