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Universal Studios Home Video presents
My Summer of Love (2004)

Tamsin: If you leave me, I'll kill myself.
Mona: If you leave me, I'll kill you, then I'll kill myself.

- Natalie Press, Emily Blunt

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: November 10, 2005

Stars: Natalie Press, Emily Blunt
Other Stars: Paddy Considine
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, language, and some drug use
Run Time: 01h:26m:40s
Release Date: October 04, 2005
UPC: 025192745027
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- BA-B+ C-

DVD Review

The intense, misguided attraction between Mona (Natalie Press) and Tamsin (Emily Blunt) that blossoms during a summer in the English countryside doesn't quite reach Heavenly Creatures territory, but it comes dangerously close. Like Peter Jackson's fantastical thriller about two teenage girls willing to do anything to keep from being separated, director Pawel Pawlikowski's My Summer of Love examines the intricacies of a romance so potent and visceral, it has the power to tear apart lives.

Mona is a local girl with a dull life and a bad boyfriend (a married man, he waits until he's had sex with her one last time before telling her, hey, this really isn't working out). Her brother, and only family, Phil (Paddy Considine) is an ex-con who found Jesus in prison. He turns the pub he and his sister call home into a place for spiritual meetings, but Mona can't recognize the person she loved under his sanctimony and continuous prayer. When she meets Tamsin, a rich girl home from boarding school for the summer, she's drawn to her physicality and emotional pain—Tamsin tells Mona her sister has recently died of anorexia. The two begin a cautious friendship that quickly spirals out of their control, but their love affair is tinged by deception and burning too brightly to sustain itself.

Pawlikowski has directed a captivating, dreamlike film, one that recreates the immediacy of adolescent passion, with languid moments of the two lovers lounging in the grass, coupled with sudden bursts of sexual energy and unexpected confession. "If you leave me, I'll kill myself," Tamsin tells Mona. "If you leave me," she replies, "I'll kill you and then I'll kill myself." My Summer of Love's real strength is not necessarily the story, which feels a bit slight at 80-odd minutes, nor even the performances, which are considerable, but the mood and tone, helped along by contrastingly bleak and sun-drenched photography and a hypnotic musical score from the electronica group Goldfrapp.

It's not without substance beyond Mona and Tamsin's relationship, however. Phil's character is an interesting study. He wants to turn his life around so badly, and he's committed himself to his newfound religion (witness scenes of prayer meetings and speaking in tongues). But Mona, who knows him best, who knows the violence in his past, can see right through him and calls him on his sanctimonious attitude. Is Pawlikowski arguing that religion, or at least fervent evangelical belief, is just as much an emotional construct as Mona and Tamsin's seasonal passion? Or do the two simply mirror one another, doomed to fail? Certainly cooler heads prevail in love in general, whether it's of another person or a deity. Most people simply can't sustain such a heightened, energized state forever.

But that's merely a thread, and the emphasis is definitely on the young lovers, and both Natalie Press and Emily Blunt are striking and genuine. Each has some rather intense moments, but their tearful admissions feel real, rather than like rehearsed histronics. Though their is some nudity, this is hardly a lesbian sex film, but the two do spark, creating palpable erotic energy. I sort of wish there was more to their story—I was never too surprised by anything that happened, and despite some intriguing ideas, the film follows a fairly staid narrative course. Then again, it's all expertly handled by a skilled director and cast, and while adolescent love may feel unique and everlasting in the moment, in hindsight the stories are almost always the same anyway. After summer must come fall, after all.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: My Summer of Love is another one of those movies that use varying film stocks and some intentional graininess to stylish effect; aside from these moments, this is a sharp transfer with somewhat muted colors, but good detail. A few scenes are dark, but black level and shadow detail are both solid.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: My Summer of Love's more or less identical DD 5.1 and DTS mixes are generally standard, front-heavy dialogue track, and on that count, they succeed admirably. Songs and the ethereal musical score fill out the mix, to good effect, and surrounds are used primarily for atmospherics.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Pride & Prejudice, The Interpreter
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Pawel Pawlikowski
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: The sole significant extra is a thoughtful commentary track from soft-spoken director Pawel Pawlikowski. He approaches the film more in terms of thematic content, though he does sprinkle in some production anecdotes. He sounds a little sleepy throughout, and there are a lot of slow and silent spots, but if you're interested in the ideas behind the film, it's worth listening to.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

A story about the intense passion of youthful attraction, My Summer of Love is rather slight, if beautifully shot, and bolstered by three outstanding performances and some rather subtle social commentary. The DVD is light on features, but offers a wonderful presentation of the film, and Goldfrapp's hypnotic music in particular.


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