A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie features instances of smoking, drinking, and drug use (including mushrooms), some rough language (including "f--k"), some experimentation with a Ouija board and discussion of anorexia, arguments over religious faith (the brother has been born again in prison and imposes it on his sister), a sex scene between a 16-year-old girl and her married male lover, and a lesbian relationship between two high school students. For mature viewers, the film offers a complicated look at belief and desire, and terrific performances by the young leads. The movie includes brief violence, when the brother grabs a girl by the throat, and when one girl learns the other has been lying and tries to drown her.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
In MY SUMMER OF LOVE, Mona (Natalie Press), feeling confined by the Yorkshire village where she's lived all her life. Everything changes when she meets lovely, upper class Tamsin (Emily Blunt). The girls hit it off and, as Tamsin's parents are away, they begin to spend their days in the family's luxurious grand mansion and grounds. Working class Mona enjoys the, fineries, but her brother Phil (Paddy Considine) – just released from prison -- worries that she's away from home and his new found religious interests strains the siblings' relationship. The girls' romance builds slowly. They share secrets, as when Tamsin recalls her dead sister's struggle with anorexia and takes up Mona's defense over her ex-lover, a married man (Dean Andrews), with whom she shared clandestine, joyless, backseat sex before her dumped her. Eventually, Phil's efforts to control Mona drive her to make a choice, between her known past and the unknowable Tamsin.
Is it any good?
An intricate study of high school-aged rebellion and yearning, My Summer of Love makes a familiar plot seem new. In part this is because it takes the view of young Mona, superbly portrayed by Natalie Press. The girls' budding romance evolves in an alternately fluid and jaunty process as they explore one another and their own feelings, partly a function of cinematographer Ryszard Lenczewski's adept handheld camerawork, and partly of Pawlikowski's experience as a documentary maker.
Each member of this threesome is obsessive in his or her own way; when Phil literally locks Mona in her bedroom in an effort to "save" her, she begins drawing Tamsin's portrait on her wall. This image -- colored chalk on the roughhewn surface -- showcases Tamsin's eye as Mona perceives and needs it, a means to see herself reflected.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between orphaned Mona and her brother: how might they alleviate tensions by discussing their differences? How is her hope that he'll be "like he was" before prison both unrealistic and understandable? How does she see his efforts to protect her as efforts to control her? How does the film show problems caused by deceit -- between siblings, friends, and lovers? How does Mona's yearning for escape lead her to believe promises that can't be true?