My Summer of Love

The most dangerous thing to want is more.

Emily as: Tamsin
Genre(s): Drama | Romance
Written by: Pawel Pawlikowski, Michael Wynne
Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski
Other Cast: Natalie Press, Paddy Considine, Paul-Anthony Barber, Lynette Edwards
Release Date: June 17, 2005 (Limited)
Production Budget:
Total Worldwide Gross: $2.7m
Filming Locations: West Yorkshire, England, UK and Lancashire, England, UK

Mona (Natalie Press) has just got hold of a brilliant moped that only cost a tenner. No engine but still dirt-cheap. She lives with her brother, Phil, (Paddy Considine) who used to run a pub before he found God and poured away all the booze. Tamsin (Emily Blunt) is rich, spoilt and trying to live a life of seductive decadence.

They meet on the moors, above their quiet Yorkshire village and begin an intense, unlikely friendship. Tamsin is tragic and fantastical, Mona, rough and witty. Tamsin is charmed and Mona is hooked.

Tamsin and Mona want to escape their lives but Phil wants to save them and save everybody else. Mona wants the old, dangerous, Phil back; the brother that she loved. Tamsin wants to see what it takes to break him.

Production Info

  • Loosely based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Helen Cross.
  • In order to help fine-tune her character’s accent, director Pawel Pawlikowski sent Natalie Press to work in a café for several days prior to filming. Press noted that the experience was worthwhile, as customers seemed to believe she was a local.
  • To screen test actors, Pawlikowski used the Edith Piaf dance scene to get a feel for chemistry between the two leads.
  • Contrary to Tamsin’s account of events, Marcel Cerdan, the boxer, wasn’t Édith Piaf’s husband. He was her lover and the love of her life. He died in a plane crash and she never recovered from his death. She never killed anyone, let alone with a fork.
  • The film was shot on location in Todmoren over five weeks during the summer of 2003 – the hottest Yorkshire had seen in 50 years.
  • Though her character plays the instrument slightly off during the film, Emily Blunt is actually able to play the cello.
  • A lot of scenes and dialogue were improvised whilst shooting, with a lot of participation from the actors. The scene in which Mona draws a portrait of Tamsin on the wall of her room was entirely improvised – during Pawlikowski’s traveling together with Press, he discovered that she used to do a lot of drawing while she was thinking, so he decided to integrate it into the movie.
  • Character Quotes

  • Apparently, I’m a bad influence on people.
  • God’s dead. This is what’s real. This, here.
  • What do you think of this place? It’s like Lego. It’s all sort of pretense. And that one there, especially. You see that house there? And the posh Jag parked outside? It’s my dad’s car. And he comes here quite a lot, I think… ’cause this is where his girlfriend lives and… his secretary, nice. And he’s in there now, you know. It must mean he’s in there now with his car there… and he’ll be fucking her now. He’ll have her bent over the cooker, fucking her up the ass. And Mona, you should see her. She’s just a dog. She’s a fucking whore… she’s all sort of blond hair and big tits and these high heels… and she’s got no fucking brains. She’s got nothing.
  • This is Edith Piaf. I just adore her. She was this marvelous Parisian woman… who had such a wonderfully tragic life. And she was married three times… and each husband died in mysterious circumstances. And the last one was a boxing champion and she killed him with a fork. She didn’t even go to prison… because in France, crimes of passion are forgiven.
  • So, my mother’s off touring with some dodgy theater company pretending to be an actress. And my father’s busy with his secretary. So I’m practically an orphan.
  • I just felt so useless. And there was my one sister, my beautiful sister. She just started to turn into this monster and she… These bones on her body, they just started to jut out. It was like someone had just stuck daggers under her skin. And her hair, she started growing hair all over her body. It was like a sort of dense fur like a werewolf. And she stopped smiling. She couldn’t smile anymore because she was throwing up all the time. And the vomit acid made her teeth go all yellow… and she just stopped smiling and stopped living. I miss her so much.
  • [Confronting Ricky’s wife] God, this is really hard, but this is my friend, Mona. And she has just had to have an abortion. It was your husband’s fetus. Basically, what he did was he just got her completely wasted… and took advantage of her. She’s now clinically depressed, as you can see. I mean… she’s just catatonic, she hasn’t spoken a word since. Have you, Mona? I mean, it could be, I mean, the talk of the town at the moment is that you’re not satisfying him enough at home. I mean, we all know when we hit a certain age everything starts to go south.
  • Maybe you should keep your husband locked up. Maybe you should castrate your husband.
  • It must be interesting to believe in something.
  • He’s a very attractive man, your brother. I’ll seek some spiritual guidance from him.
  • I couldn’t be myself back there in front of my mother. Anyway, I was just playing a part. That wasn’t even me. Come on, you know me. You know me. And don’t be upset about Sadie. Sadie was just… Sadie was just a bit of poetic license. I mean, I’m a fantasist. You can’t tell me we haven’t had fun. I’ve never met anyone like you. Please don’t be angry with me.
  • Tamsin: What’s your name?
    Mona: Mona.
    Tamsin: You don’t look like a “Mona.”
    Mona: It’s not me real name. It’s because of me brother. I were always complaining as a kid so he started calling me “the Mona.” ‘Cause me real name is Lisa. Mona Lisa. Get it?
    Tamsin: Yeah, I’ve studied the original.
  • Tamsin: I like your bike.
    Mona: Yeah? It’s a Honda. I just got it off some Gyppos up at the maggot farm.
    Tamsin: It doesn’t appear to have an engine.
    Mona: It were only a tenner.
    Tamsin: What’s the point of a bike without an engine?
  • Tamsin: So, it’s just you and your brother in your pub?
    Mona: Just me, me brother, and God.
    Tamsin: Is he completely mad?
    Mona: Yeah.
    Tamsin: What happened to him?
    Mona: He went inside and he came out funny.
    Tamsin: He went to prison?
    Mona: Yeah.
    Tamsin: What for?
    Mona: Robbery, burglary… fighting people.
    Tamsin: What about your parents?
    Mona: I don’t know me dad. And me mum’s dead.
    Tamsin: What did she die of?
    Mona: Cancer.
    Tamsin: My sister died of anorexia.
  • Tamsin: Have you read Nietzsche?
    Mona: Who?
    Tamsin: Nietzsche. This great philosopher, and he just believed that… you know, there are some people that are just put on this planet who are made to succeed, who were just made to blossom. And it doesn’t matter how many lesser mortals suffer and get fucked over, it doesn’t matter, as long as they succeed. You know, like Shakespeare and Wagner… and your brother. All that crap. I mean, Nietzsche would string him up.
  • Tamsin: Are you in love with him still?
    Mona: No.
    Tamsin: Were you ever?
    Mona: I thought I were.
    Tamsin: Then why’d you dump him?
    Mona: He dumped me.
    Tamsin: Why?
    Mona: He said he couldn’t be bothered anymore.
    Tamsin: Twat.
    Mona: Anyway, he had a wife and kid.
    Tamsin: Men like that should be castrated.
  • Mona: That’s Ricky.
    Tamsin: Christ, you didn’t mention he was fat.
    Mona: He’s not. It’s all muscle.
    Tamsin: Yeah, right.
  • Tamsin: Do you really think that there’s darkness in the valley?
    Phil: Absolutely, yeah. There’s darkness everywhere.
    Tamsin: What, like the Devil?
  • Tamsin: We must never be parted. Do you hear me?
    Mona: Yeah.
    Tamsin: Are you listening to me?
    Mona: Yeah.
    Tamsin: We’re gonna spend the rest of our lives together.
    Mona: I know.
    Tamsin: If you leave me, I’ll kill you.
  • Quoting: Emily Blunt

    On her character: She’s pretentious and indulged, but also incredibly fragile and naïve, so I felt sympathy for her. Her cavalier cruelty wasn’t sinister; it was just a game she plays. I really enjoyed playing someone so layered who, deep down, is so lost.

    On relating to her character: I was never Tamsin; I was the geek who wanted to be her friend. But I know girls like Tamsin, and I remember how magnetic they were. There are some people you meet who have a kind of static about them and they draw you in, even though you know you shouldn’t be friends with them.

    On improvising scenes: It’s very different for me to work in that way, cause I’m used to working with a fixed script where you know the exact time, location and scene that will be taking place. But I think for me to work in this very organic way, really does feel like a collaborative effort. I mean you feel very open, and you bring so much of yourself to the table. It’s sort of a revelation, because you find things that ring true. Every scene, there was a freedom to it. We could try new things, and it was never frowned upon when we tried something new. If something wasn’ t working, it was about persevering until we found something that was golden.

    On her hesitation to audition: I was a real wuss about it. I was really scared about working in a different way, a modern, gritty, unique way of working. But I went and I met Pawel [Pawlikowski] and I really liked him immensely and then I met Natalie [Press] and I really liked her immensely. And the whole way the process was unfolding before my eyes, I could suddenly see it and see myself in it, and felt that we could go there together, because the chemistry was great. And I wasn’t scared any more.

    On appearing nude: I think it’s very hard with those scenes to be completely at ease. You’re standing there with your tits out and of course it’s embarrassing on one level and it’s one of the most unsexy things you can film – there are so many technical things going on. It’s always a bit excruciating for everyone and terribly time-consuming. Pawel was like, “We’ll talk about that scene later.” But we had to be brave about it, you have to be to make them work. The main thing about them is there’s nothing very merry about shooting them.

    On filming emotional scenes: They’re hard in a completely different way. It’s hard to get those to ring true. I watched it with some friends, and they just stared at me, but I loved doing it. Pawel just kept teasing things out of us, getting different reactions and trying again and again until we finally hit gold with it.”

    On filming the love scenes: Natalie and I were both aware it wasn’t going to be gratuitous. We knew why these characters would do what they did, and I think as long as you know that and understand the material and why you’re going there, you’ll always be brave enough to do it.

    On working with Pawel Pawlikowski: Pawel has taught me a great deal. I think I learned more from him than anyone I’ve ever worked with, which is just have a bit of courage. And that ambiguity is actually really interesting. And that there are so many different ways to interpret a moment or a scene, and you should just have some courage and some guts.

    On working with Natalie Press: There’s a very effortless chemistry there. We’re completely different people—such contrasting personalities off-set—and I think it gave us a spark together on-camera.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Director Pawel Pawlikowski: When she appeared, she just felt very right and relevant. She was very confident and had these animated, seductive eyes that made contact with you while hiding at the same time. I knew she could carry Tamsin off.

    Director Pawel Pawlikowski: The big task was to find Tamsin. We started looking high and low at established actresses–quite famous ones–until we came across Emily. When Emily came and tried out a couple of scenes, there was a real spark between them, and they were so fundamentally different as characters, actresses, everything, that it got very interesting immediately. There was a sort of magnetism on screen.

    Critical Response

    Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle: Press and Blunt have never been in a movie before let alone starred in one, but you’d never know it from the way they command the big screen. The actresses have chemistry, which makes the romance plausible, and they complement each other without competing for attention. With her dark hair and piercing eyes, Blunt looks like Ali MacGraw and has the haughtiness she brought to Goodbye, Columbus. But Blunt’s performance is subtler. Always the manipulator, her Tamsin puts on airs for effect. She drops them when she begins to confide in Mona so her new best friend will be grateful for the intimacy.

    David Ansen, Newsweek: Press and Blunt are major discoveries: in this sly and wonderfully atmospheric gem, they conjure up the role-playing raptures of youth with perfect poetic pitch.

    Derek Elley, Variety: Press, putting on a flawless Yorkshire accent, almost steals the movie as the ditzy Mona (real name: Lisa), a plain-but-pretty lass swept away by Tamsin’s erudition and poise. But Blunt’s perf as the mysterious, mixed-up Tamsin grows, adding a sense of menace which coincides with Considine’s loony Phil.

    Awards and Nominations

    Below is a list of all accolades Emily has received for her role in the film.

    NOMINATED: British Independent Film Awards – Most Promising Newcomer
    NOMINATED: London Critics Circle Film Awards – British Newcomer of the Year

    WON: Evening Standard British Film Awards – Most Promising Newcomer
    WON: Motovun Film Festival – Special Mention (shared with Natalie Press)