|My Summer of Love|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Pawel Pawlikowski|
|Produced by||Chris Collins|
|Screenplay by||Pawel Pawlikowski|
|Based on||My Summer of Love|
by Helen Cross
|Music by||Alison Goldfrapp|
|Edited by||David Charap|
|Distributed by||ContentFilm (U.K.)|
Focus Features (U.S.)
|Box office||£5 million|
My Summer of Love is a 2004 British drama film directed by Pawe? Pawlikowski and co-written by Pawlikowski and Michael Wynne. Based on the novel of the same name by Helen Cross, the film explores the lesbian relationship between two young women from different classes and backgrounds. Working class Mona (Natalie Press), whose once-hotheaded brother Phil (Paddy Considine) became a born-again Christian in prison, meets upper middle class Tamsin (Emily Blunt, in her theatrical film debut) who suffers from a lack of love in her family. Filmed in West Yorkshire, the film went on to win a BAFTA.
In Yorkshire, Tamsin rides her horse and chances upon Mona. Tamsin is from an upper-middle-class family and says she has been suspended from boarding school. Mona comes from a family of criminals with only her brother Phil alive. Both of the girls seem to regard their lives as mundane.
Mona finds Phil destroying all the booze in their late mother's former pub. He has undergone a religious transformation in prison, and now plans a Christian rally. Mona meets her lover, Ricky, for sex in his car, but he breaks up with her. The next day, the girls begin to bond as they spend the day drinking, smoking and talking about their problems.
The next day, Tamsin takes Mona to the house where Tamsin claims that her father is cheating on her mother. Mona smashes a window of Tamsin's father's car.
Tamsin purchases an engine for Mona's scooter, and they drive to a small river to swim. Under a waterfall, the girls share a kiss. At Tamsin's house Mona tries on her dresses. Tamsin tearfully recounts the anorexia death of her sister Sadie. In the garden, Tamsin plays the cello while Mona dances. Tamsin kisses Mona passionately. Later they have sex.
Phil invites the girls to his rally. They join the born-again Christians to erect a cross on a hill. Tamsin acts attracted to Phil. Later, Mona and Tamsin find a bag of magic mushrooms in Sadie's room. They eat the mushrooms and go to a dancehall where they disturb the patrons. They return to the river and declare their eternal love to each other, swearing a death oath.
Tamsin pretends to seduce Phil, but he reacts angrily. He locks Mona in her room. Mona fakes suicide and then mocks Phil's religious beliefs. Phil kicks out the born-again Christians, while Mona packs a suitcase and leaves for Tamsin.
Mona discovers that Tamsin is returning to boarding school. Mona also finds out that Tamsin's lied about her parents and sister. Dejected, Mona goes to the river.
Tamsin tells Mona she should have known Tamsin was lying. Seemingly forgiving her, Mona slips into the water, enticing Tamsin to join her, and the two girls kiss again. Mona grabs Tamsin by the throat and pushes her under the water, as if to kill her. Instead, Mona releases Tamsin and walks away.
Casting the two lead actresses for the film proved difficult for Pawlikowski, and the overall casting procedure took about eight months. Pawlikowski searched in schools, universities, theatre groups and public castings. He discovered Natalie Press first, and sought her counterpart by holding workshops together with Press and Considine. During this process, he finally found Emily Blunt, and felt her to be the ideal Tamsin. The chemistry between Press and Blunt was perfect, and they first did a tryout with the "Pavlova-dancing scene", which worked out perfectly. Emily Blunt is a competent cellist, and is listed in the credits as the performer of "The Swan" by Camille Saint-Saëns. Pawlikowski already knew Paddy Considine from their earlier collaboration Last Resort and cast him as Phil.
The film was shot during the span of five weeks after intensive location-scouting by Pawlikowski. The script only contained 35 pages and was incomplete. Many scenes were improvised while shooting. The scene in which Mona draws a portrait of Tamsin on the wall of her room was entirely improvised--during Pawlikowski's travelling together with Press, he discovered that she used to do a lot of drawing while she was thinking, so he decided to integrate it into the movie and made a scene out of it. The whole shoot was done on location in Todmorden during the hottest summer Yorkshire had seen in 50 years.
The performances of the leading actresses have been acclaimed, with awards from the Evening Standard British Film Awards and the London Critics Circle Film Awards. Additionally, Pawlikowski's unconventional style of directing has been rewarded with a BAFTA for Best British Film and the Michael Powell award for Best British Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival (where the film had its world premiere in 2004), along with many nominations across the British Independent Film Awards and the European Film Awards.
Both Natalie and Emily were extremely different and very original, which is a rare thing nowadays. They avoid the obvious, and are capable of playing complex and conflicting attitudes. Above all, they had energy, which is key for a movie. When I brought them together for a workshop, I could see them feeding off of each other well, and I knew that this was going to work.-- Pawel Pawlikowski
Pawel has a European sensibility. Whilst he's working with British subject and landscapes, he is much more interested in the essence of things - rather than the usual obsession with class and surface of contemporary life. He has mixture of lyricism and humor and a love of paradox and mystery which set him apart from the rest of British filmmaking, particularly the social realist tradition.-- Tanya Seghatchian
The novel of the same title, My Summer of Love by Helen Cross, only served as a blueprint for the film. Whereas the novel pays a lot of attention to the social background of England in the 1980s, Pawlikowski focused on the relationship between the girls. Most of the characters in the novel were left out in the film and the character Phil was invented and added by Pawlikowski, who had previously directed a documentary on born-again Christians in Yorkshire. In many interviews Pawlikowski said that he was not interested in portraying typical teenage life in England, but he wanted to give the movie a certain "timeless feeling".
[...]If you wanted to make a film about British teenagers it would be ... well, it wouldn't interest me, let's put it like that. They'd be listening to music I hate, watching TV all the time, and talking about Big Brother. I needed to remove it, to get to the essence of adolescence without the paraphernalia of today. In a way I am arrested in my adolescent emotions, like most of us I think are, so [the film is] very personal, funnily enough, despite it being about two girls. I identify with Mona to an unhealthy degree [laughs], so the main thing was to make these teenagers the sort of teenagers I could relate to myself, slightly more timeless and removed from now.
My Summer of Love was first screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, being released across the UK on 5 November 2004. In the US, the film was initially screened at the Seattle International Film Festival on 20 May 2005, being eventually given a limited released across the US on 17 June 2005.
In the US, the film grossed $90,000 on its opening weekend, in 17 theaters; and went on to be released across 63 theaters, grossing a total $1,000,915 in the 8 weeks of its release. Worldwide, it grossed an additional $1,766,061, for a lifetime gross of $2,766,976.
The film was met with acclaim from critics. It currently holds an approval rating of 90% and an average rating of 7.4/10, based on 90 reviews, at Rotten Tomatoes. According to the website's critical consensus, "My Summer of Love is a moody, bittersweet love story featuring outstanding performances from the leads." It also received a weighted average score of 82 out of 100 from Metacritic, based on 31 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who gave it 3/4 stars, described it as "a movie that is more about being an age, than coming-of-age", while A.O. Scott of The New York Times termed it "a triumph of mood and implication", and James Berardinelli of ReelViews, called it a "gem" lost in the "hype" of Hollywood blockbusters.
Not all criticism was positive, however, with Ty Burr of The Boston Globe, calling it "a conceit on a number of levels", and described it as "confused between an 'artistic' lesbian movie and Heavenly Creatures", which he declared to be "superior", while Steve Schneider of Orlando Weekly called it "slight and predictable at its core". The unfavorable comparison to Heavenly Creatures was echoed by Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews.
My Summer of Love was nominated for the British Independent Film Award at the 2004 British Independent Film Awards, the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the 2005 BAFTAs, the Best New British Feature award at the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival, the European Film Award at the 2005 European Film Awards, the ALFS award at the 2005 London Critics Circle Film Awards, and the 2005 Directors Guild Of Great Britain Awards. Out of these it won the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the BAFTAs, the Directors Guild Of Great Britain Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in British Film, the Best New British Feature at the Edinburgh Film Festival, and the ALFS award at the London Critics Circle Film Awards.