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My Summer of Love | Review

Confusions of Teenage Drama Queens

Pawlikowski lets viewers discover what being ‘born again’ is all about.

New friendships often metamorphize into something a little special when the long hours of the summer are involved and the Brit drama of My Summer of Love explores how that powerful bond brings two sides to one step further. Pawel Pawlikowski’s intimate look into summer romance, sexuality, sexual experimentation and individual discovery materializes into the sort of tale that highlights the notion of embracing faith in others. Expressed in a sometimes easy, laisser-faire and ambiguous set-up, the off-beat, refreshing and surprisingly entertaining drama stimulates the senses thanks to a couple of strong performances from a pair of fresh faces.

The juxtapositioning of two girls in a field of grass with a defunct scooter and a stable horse demonstrates the interesting parallels found in the young female body, mind and spirit. Take a bored, well-off girl with good-looks (Emily Blunt) looking for some pawns to play with and add a tough-cookie girl looking for a new playmate and we have the workings for some cosmic energy and ample amounts of saliva. Outfitted with freckles and a cherry blossom smile Mona (Nathalie Press) is the type who is willing to lay everything on the line for her convictions and her character is displayed in a full out strained relationship with an overly-protective and newly Christianized older brother played by Paddy Considine. With the many empty wine bottles, Edith Piaf songs, playing dress-up sessions and lengthy discussions later – the deep connection between the two girls strengths – and then not surprisingly, softens. Based on the Helen Cross novel, this shifting power struggle between the three is so low key that most viewers will forget about thinking about the consequences of what the end of that summer might bring.

With a Dogme-like strategy of natural light, a zoom-in and zoom-out off-center compositions, Pawlikowski modestly transposes the hypnotic aesthetic quality of his film with the narrative’s themes. The youthful, girl power appeal of a Movern Caller sets in – the energy between the two characters is more pronounced by the delightful charting of the film’s emotional outputs. With a certain amount of grace and crafty humor, there are parts of the screenplay which could have easily been riddled with giggles – but the moments of sexual experimentation bring in the sort of strong laughs that don’t mock the film’s interior dialogue but rather add a degree of honesty to the female characters.

With the omni-present score that languishes on a couple of the film’s more visceral sequences – the changes in mood are the most telling about the characters. Along with the role-playing fantasies between the two female characters deliciously details itself as a story that might look simple on the surface, but is indeed a lot more complicated making for an atypical coming-of-age film. My Summer of Love is a playful film that lingers into many comfortable positions – it makes for the perfect example of a national cinema that works outside of its own borders.

Rating 3 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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