There is a famous monologue in the 1990s cult flick TRAINSPOTTING, wherein the hero, Renton, talks about all the entrapments of consumer culture. "Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments." Renton and his mates escape this British consumer drudgery through hard-core drug addiction.
In a sense, the heroine of MY SUMMER OF LOVE, Mona, starts at much the same point as Renton. She is a working-class girl, living in the boondocks of Yorkshire. Life holds no hope, and given her intelligence - an intelligence frustrated by the lack of opportunity surrounding her - she is painfully aware of this. When asked what she'll do with her life, Mona responds, dead-pan, "I'm gonna get a job in an abattoir, work really hard, get a boyfriend who's like... a bastard, and churn out all these kids, right, with mental problems. And then I'm gonna wait for the menopause... or cancer." That quotation should hopefully give you a flavour of both the humour and the underlying despair in this delightful, much under-discussed, flick.
Mona is pushed to the edge of despair in the summer in question when her brother, Phil, converts to evangelical Christianity. Unlike Renton, Mona escapes not through drugs but love - namely with a glamourous, reassuringly knowing "posh" girl who lives in a manor house. The film charts the consequence of this love affair on the three protagonists. For a film whose subject matter is rather dour and problematic, the tone is light, sometimes fey, and a sheer pleasure to watch. Kudos to the director, but especially to the three lead actors who give performances of integrity. In particular, Natalie Press, most recently seen on UK TV screens as Caddy Jellyby in the BBC adaptation of Bleak House, plays Mona as having a combination of fragility and inner strength. I feel she could be the Samantha Morton of her generation. The brother is played by Paddy Considine gives another edgy, intelligent performance
If Ang Lee struggled to get Brokeback accepted for being more than just a "gay cowboy" movie, Pawel Pawlikowski must also struggle to have MY SUMMER OF LOVE accepted as being more than just a "lesb*an coming of age flick." This movie has so much more to it and I strongly encourage you to check it out.
MY SUMMER OF LOVE was shown at the 2004 London Film Fest and went on limited release in the US and Continential Europe in summer 2005. It is now available on Region 2 DVD replete with cast and director interviews.
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