A quiet, somewhat haunting psychological drama, "My Summer of Love" is a British production, written and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, based upon the novel by Helen Cross. The tale concerns two young women - Mona (Natalie Press), a girl from the wrong side of the tracks whose brother, Phil (Paddy Considine, from "In America"), is an ex-con and turned born-again Christian after prison, now planning to build an enormous crucifix just out of town; and Tamsin (Emily Blunt), a rich girl home from boarding school after being kicked out for being "a bad influence." The two seem to be the only ones their age for miles, boredom seeping out of their pores as they stand in what one could only call classically beautiful countryside. Mona goes around on a scooter, only without the engine.
The two girls become quick friends, and Tamsin tells tales of her sister, who passed away from anorexia, and talks about some of the subjects that she's learned in school. Her father and mother are nowhere to be found, leaving the girl alone in a huge house that's beautiful, intricate, gorgeously furnished and yet, seems to have sorrow floating through the air. Mona has just been dumped by her boyfriend, and the idea of retreating away with her new friend seems utterly refreshing.
The fast friendship of the two turns to something more, as the girls feel as if they're the only ones each other can turn to. Phil doesn't take well to this new "friendship", and neither do other townsfolk. Although the first half of the movie proceeds in every way that one might expect, writer/director Pawlikowski does begin to turn the tables in the second half, with some twists that work fairly well.
The real highlight of the film are the two lead performances, as Press and Blunt offer superb portrayals of their characters. Their efforts are simple, yet complex, showing a lot of hurt and emotion and longing for something more underneath rather subtle exteriors - although they're two polar opposites, they bond in their desire to get out of their small town. Constantine offers a fine performance, although his character doesn't get as much focus or development.
The film maintains a dreamy quality both visually and otherwise and, while that's lovely to look at (the film's cinematography is often quite striking), the pacing of the film seems pretty deliberate, which results in a movie that sometimes can feel a lot longer than its 90 minutes. There's a slight undercurrent that something's going to go wrong throughout the first half, yet the movie never successfully builds up this potential tension that much. As a result, the film can seem rather uneventful at times, held up mainly by the two lead efforts. The ending also seemed a bit too abrupt, as well. I thought "Lost and Delirious" did something similar moderately better, but overall, "My Summer of Love" remains a visually superb, well-acted teenage drama.
VIDEO: "My Summer of Love" is presented by Univeral in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although not a transfer without some issues, this is a mostly fine effort from the studio. Despite the fact that the film is shot with a slightly hazy, dreamy look, fine details are still clearly visible.
The presentation did show some very slight traces of pixelation in a couple of scenes, but otherwise looked crisp and clear, with no edge enhancement or print flaws. Colors looked rich and vivid, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The dialogue-driven picture is presented in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. Dialogue and the subdued score both sounded crisp and well-recorded. The DTS soundtrack did not have any noticable differences versus the Dolby Digital edition.
Final Thoughts: "My Summer of Love" starts off well, and offers two great performances. However, the middle starts to drag at times, and the movie seems longer than it is. Still, it's a mostly good effort, and the performances are fine. Worth a rental for those interested.