Pawel Pawlikowski and Emily Blunt

The director and actress of My Summer of Love.

Visiting Seattle for SIFF, My Summer of Love director Pawel Pawlikowski and actress Emily Blunt (who plays upper-class corrupter Tamsin) spoke about the movie. (See review.) The 2001 source novel by Helen Cross was pared down considerably, says Pawlikowski: "It was quite a complicated story. There were a lot of characters in it. It was set in 1984 during the miners' strike. The thing that really rings true is the obsessive relationship of the two girls and Mona's perception of what's going on." That relationship takes place in almost complete isolation, he adds. "It's sort of an abstract space, sort of the perfect town." Into this idyll—or is it a laboratory?—comes Tamsin, about whom Blunt explains: "[She] very much wants to feel a part of this world that Mona lives in; and Mona also wants to be swept away in Tamsin's world. Mona has this kind of tragic life that Tamsin would love for herself in a way. So I think she sees Mona as a kind of pet for the summer, as an experiment." Indeed, there's a kind of social science to Tamsin's reaching across the class divide, according to Pawlikowski: "It's a very English story. It's not that I wanted to talk about class, but there's just something fascinating about England. It's the only country where you can imagine two girls living within a mile of each other who are not just divided by economic conditions but by a completely different picture of the world, a completely different fantasy of the world. In Europe, anywhere else in Europe, you couldn't really imagine that, that big a gulf." In this way, the Yorkshire mining districts have a certain timeless, locked-in-amber quality. "Even with the things like clothes and cars and trains," notes Blunt, "You're not supposed to know when this film is set." For Pawlikowski, there's little social mobility in this enclave. "There's generations of people on the dole. There's no kind of movement as such. The postindustrial wastelands of northern England have limited horizons, not through their own fault. There's a strange mixture of natural beauty and postindustrial areas. And it's very peculiar to me." At the same time, he notes, "There's an influx of rich people into these little pockets of good housing stock," meaning the mansions left by the old mine owners and industrialists. Viewed in this storybook sense, Tamsin becomes like the princess—granted a very dark princess—in the castle and Mona the peasant outside her gates. If that sounds more like a fairy tale than a culture clash, that's the spirit that Pawlikowski intends. He concludes, "I was quite consciously avoiding sociology in this story."

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