My Summer of Love
To call My Summer of Love
a lesbian love story would be completely missing the point, I think.
Yes, it is the story of two attractive British teens who fall for each other
during a long, hot, boring season in their quiet countryside town.
Yes, their relationship becomes (discreetly) sexual. Yes, they
melodramatically proclaim complete and undying love for each other.
But My Summer of Love
is not a Sapphic romance any more than Gladiator is the story of some
guys fighting cats.
This movie is a fascinating character
study, really, of two very different sixteen year-old girls who find each
other through dissatisfaction for their lives and boredom. They
develop a crush upon each other, perhaps. A deep friendship,
definitely. An odd co-dependency, to be sure.
Mona (Nathalie Press) is a
sun-freckled blonde whose life seems to be falling apart. Her parents
have died, leaving her and her older brother Phil (Paddy Considine) their
small depressing pub. She lives above it. Phil has recently been
released from prison and found God; he has decided without checking with
Mona to change the watering hole into a prayer center. Mona's married
boyfriend has just dumped her in a spectacularly thoughtless fashion.
Mona has no money, no
interests and no prospects (at sixteen, she has already mapped out her
future unhappy existence -- loveless marriage, bratty kids, followed by a
deadly disease). She is so poor that she has to buy a moped without
the motor because she can't afford to buy it whole. However, despite
all her hardships, Mona is honest and trusting to a fault; she is almost
incapable of being insincere.
Tasmin (Emily Blunt), on the other hand,
is more veiled, more of a mystery. A quiet, beautiful rich girl whose
mother is always away "acting" and her father is never home when he can be
with his mistress. Tasmin tells Mona early on in her relationship a
story about the death of her older sister due to anorexia. Tasmin
should have no real worries in her life -- she has money, she has beauty,
she is a talented cellist -- however she wallows in a poor-little-rich-girl
funk. And unlike Mona, Tasmin is quite talented at telling mistruths
to get what she wants.
The two become close
friends, then inseparable confidants. The sexual component of their
relationship, when it comes, seems natural and a bit shy. However, the
sex is not what bonds the two, it is their romanticized, immature view of
true love. Tasmin suggests as the summer wears down that if Mona ever
left her, she would have to kill her. Mona tops her, suggesting if
Tasmin ever leaves, she'd kill her and then kill herself. Despite the
nearly maudlin melodrama of the statement, you don't doubt her sincerity.
Phil worries that Tasmin may
be a bad influence on his sister and that she has some sneaking ulterior
motives. It turns out that he is not completely wrong, but his extreme
beliefs and behavior make it impossible for him to convey that to his
As the title suggests,
things come to a head as the leaves start to turn, when Mona finally and
dramatically learns how different she is from the girl she "loves."
Do either of the girls here
grow up to actually become lesbians? I seriously doubt it. In
the long run as far as this atmospheric tale goes, it doesn't matter.
For one long, hazy summer, they found friendship and compassion, experimented with
their lifestyle and kept boredom at bay by investing themselves
melodramatically, perhaps even unhealthily, in each other.
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Posted: October 14, 2005.