Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My Summer of Drill Fetishes.

My Summer of Love
2004, UK
Pawel Pawlikowski

Although still a taboo subject in many parts of the world, films about lesbians are quite common here in the educated parts of North American. Granted, many of them feature Gia Paloma, Chrystal Ray, and a dildo strapped to an electric drill, but don't let that throw you off. They're feminist films, really. After all, noted theorist Andrea Dworkin said that patriarchy and the oppression of women results in every heterosexual encounter being essentially rape, which I interpret as license to obsessively watch lesbian pornography. These women are yonic warriors, battling to free their gender from the shackles of oppressive male dominations by enabling middle age men to masturbate furtively to Cousin Stevie's Pussy Party 6 while their wives pick up milk from the corner store to soften up the mashed potatoes.

The result of an unhelpful Google Image search for Pussy Party

My Summer of Love, however, is a departure from the standard I'm used to from lesbian films. For one thing, it has dialogue, and very little in the way of unsanitary insertions. It also has a story, and an interesting one at that, though a little familiar. Mixing the conventions of interclass romance best observed in Pretty In Pink with the sexual experiments of The Dreamers and, to a lesser and more literal extent, SS Camp Women's Hell, the film tells the story of a blossoming romance between a blue collar orphan from a working class town, Mona, and the confusingly named Tamsin, a privileged aristocrat's daughter. What comes next seems to follow a path well-trodden, with an obsessive friendship turning into puppy love, which then turns into disappointingly tasteful sex scenes. We're not surprised when, as the summer ends, the rich girl prepares to abandon her summer conquest to return to boarding school, nor are shocked by her lover's violent reaction, having seen Heavenly Creatures several times hoping to catch a glimpse of Melanie Lynsky's nipple. But, the climax of the film is not what's expected at all, swerving from its familiar path at the last minute, and leaving the viewer feeling unsatisfied. It almost feels like the natural flow of the film has been interrupted just before completion, that the director is revelling in the pent up expectations of the viewer and enjoying leaving frustrated tension humming in the audience. In short, this movie seems almost like an exercise in delaying and denying expectations, kind of like this review is an attempt to call the film a cock tease without using objectionable language.

Damn Safe Search

The film's two leads, Emily Blunt and Nathalie Press, play their roles well, full of the bouncy, jiggley effervescence of youth, though Blunt is a touch too much like a more androgynous Tilda Swinton to truly satisfy. Their passionate commitment to character shines through, however, and almost makes up for the film's faults, which include a reluctance to get right to the warm, moist core of their relationship, and a script which focuses too heavily on tell, rather than show. Also, whenever Tamsin's brother shows up, played by Paddy Constantine, I found myself distracted from the main thrust of the narrative. Nevertheless, despite its failings, My Summer of Love provides a titillating glimpse of the potential of two talented actresses, one that hopefully will find fulfilment and reward in the future, either with an Academy Award, or Cousin Stevie's $1000 grand prize.


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