My Summer of Love, as the title implies, is about a romance during the summer holidays. Perhaps one of the draws of this movie in release now in Singapore, is indirectly from the popularity of The Devil Wears Prada, with Emily Blunt playing the role of an uncooperative, bullying colleague to Anne Hathaway's Andrea. Yet another GLBT movie to hit our shores (somehow I think lesbian love films make it here more frequently than gay ones?), this movie, based on a novel written by Helen Cross, and directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, has won the BAFTA award for Best British Film, amongst other movie awards.
The protagonist is Mona (Nathalie Press), a young orphaned girl on the verge of losing her brother Phil (Paddy Considine) to his rediscovery of Christianity. They own a bar, but with his turn for the supposed better, he has converted their joint to a meeting place for his cell group of reborn Christians. Lonely, she chances upon Tamsin (Emily Blunt), a girl back from boarding school for the holidays, and the two soon strike up a fast friendship.
It makes you wonder how one develops feelings for members of the same sex, or if such harbouring of feelings is innate in the first place. Mona becomes the surrogate sister of Tamsin, who is a typical poor pitiful rich girl looking for thrills, who had lost her own sister, and found a substitute in Mona. Coming from families who seemingly don't care for them, their hanging out together draws them closer to each other.
Much of the movie shows this development of friendship into something more, of the forging of friendship amongst lonely people, and devotes much screen time to this. However, there is another side observation on a separate theme, and that's of religion. I found that this film bold in its depiction of the hypocrisy amongst men who assume they have godly powers over mere mortals, and how their bigoted views often seem misguided. It doesn't mince its message on speaking in tongues, or having the Lord speak through oneself in the judgement of others.
Of course it's always tough being the good and holy person, given sinners are we all, but there are plenty of scenes in this movie that probably suggests that there is always a veil of hypocrisy surrounding those who use the name of the Lord in vain. Through Phil, we see how hard he tries to be accepted back to society, how hard he tries to imagine that he has changed for the better because of his devotion to religious cause, and how easy it is to fall back into the path which totally contradicts every well-meaning effort trying to change oneself.
On a lighter note, there is a little hint of mystery that nags you throughout the film about possible deception. And with the twist revealed at the end, it somehow makes your blood boil a bit, never mind if you don't swing for the same side. Perhaps sometimes, it's always best to heed advice from blood which is always thicker than water, or stick to the notion that summer flings should always begin and end as the season comes and goes.