STUDIO: Focus Features
MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 87 Minutes
Commercial for soundtrack

The Pitch

"It’s the rich openly screwing over the poor, with no surprises. Shit, you’re letting me make it? I was just seeing what the BBC wouldn’t finance."

The Humans

Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine.

The Nutshell

In a sleepy village in England (seriously, I think the whole population stays in bed all day, except for our principals), young Mona (Press) is going through many an externalized metaphor for puberty. Her parents are dead, so she lives with her ex-con brother (Considine) who just found the Lord and converted their pub into a house of worship. Her boyfriend, an older married man, has just screwed her and dumped her. Her life is generally awful, and deserving of a damn good sulk, until she meets Tamsin (Blunt), a rich girl back from boarding school for the summer holidays.

Tamsin takes Mona into her home, and hooks the girl with sympathy through theatrics covering the death of a sister, the infidelity of a father. Unfortunately for Mona, Tamsin is just a lying bitch who is looking for a little fling over the summer, while Mona herself hangs all her ideals of love on her new friend, only to have them predictably broken long, long after the audience can see it coming.

It’s time for one of those "butt-in-the-moonbeam" walks.

The Package

The disc has a nice transfer and decent sound, with a moody soundtrack, but is pretty skimpy on the bonus features. There is a feature-length commentary with director Pawel Pawlikoski, which concentrates on the more esoteric bits of the film production (such as the preparation the actors underwent, the framing of certain shots) and either ignores the problems with the script or makes the assumption that the audience is on the same page as him with respect to the quality of the screenplay.

There is also a commercial for the soundtrack, which features you friend and mine, Goldfrapp.

The Lowdown

Childhood experimentation, both with love and with power, can be a compelling topic for a film. Better Luck Tomorrow attacked the desperate plots, the overcompensations of inexperience with a blunt and brutal method; My Summer Of Love pokes a feather at the topic and then gets bored and wanders off. Director Pawel Pawlikowski never gets under the goosebumps, much less the skin, of his characters. Mona is the protagonist, and the one who undergoes the only discernible change, but it doesn’t include any sort of revelation for the character; it’s more of a revolution, a rotation from pissed at the world for a couple of decent reasons, to pleased with the world, to pissed at the world again.

May the town rise up to meet you; may your boobs be always to the wind.

The relationships between the characters are telegraphed very early on; Tamsin’s aloof manner and nickel-theater theatrics tip the viewer off about the nature of her character right from her first interaction with Mona. I can’t blame the actors for their fate-driven character arcs, nor, for the most part, the direction: the fault for the failure lies squarely on the writing. The acting is subtle and believable; the direction is steady with a beautiful eye; the writing is dull and unfocused. (The screenplay by the director in collaboration with Michael Wynne, based on a novel by Helen Cross, the quality of which I can’t begin to guess.)

You hope, with a movie like this, that the information broadcast early on will be challenged and overthrown before the credits run, but in this case the film just beats you with repetition, in the hope that your skin will break and you’ll magically find some sort of epiphany underneath. The godless rich piss on the godless poor, for fun and profit, but mostly for fun, and the moral gets no deeper than that.

5.5 out of 10