Visually, Pawel Pawlikowksi's follow-up to his acclaimed refugee drama Last Resort is a joy. The film's backdrop, while always recognisably Yorkshire, is stylised into a strange neverland. The streets are weirdly empty, the sun always shines and there's not a strain of teeny pop in earshot. From the freckles on its young heroine's face to the woodchip wallpaper in her bedroom, the whole thing looks incredible. The result is that rare beast: a British film that feels like a proper movie.
It also contains a star performance, Paddy Considine sealing his rep as the British De Niro. As the evangelical Phil, who pours his liquor down the sink and turns his pub into a happy-clappy church hall, the actor is terrific. He's so natural it's almost offputting; you cannot take your eyes off him. He emanates a whiff of danger no amount of religious rhetoric can disguise. And as soon as he lays eyes on Emily Blunt's Tamsin, you really do sense that everything might just go to hell.
Newcomer Nathalie Press is also mesmerising as Mona. From her flawless Yorkshire accent to her fearless adolescent sexuality, she's a real discovery. In fact, the film's only slight flaw is Blunt. It's clear which of his leading ladies Pawlikowksi is most excited about: Blunt does sexy schoolgirl siren terribly well, but it's all a bit clichéd. Press plays the more amusing, the more believable character.
This solitary weakness apart, My Summer Of Love is exhilarating stuff. Meticulously, ingeniously and most of all convincingly, Pawlikowksi sets up a trio of difficult relationships where you can imagine almost anything happening. At several key points, the action could turn to murder, rape or a Bonnie-and-Bonnie-style crime spree. It's a witty and erotic rite of passage that, for once, keeps you guessing.
For girls, it's an ode to friendship. For lads, it's a dollop of babe-on-babe action. For arthouse aficionados, it's a good namedrop. Win, win, win.
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