Apr 15, 2010

Mini-Reviews: Tin Cup / My Summer of Love

DIR: Ron Shelton

Director Ron Shelton has made something of a trademark of sports movies, with White Men Can't Jump, Play it to the Bone and Bull Durham (also with Tin Cup star Kevin Costner) among his credits. He's left the world of sports behind recently, and, tellingly, his more recent work hasn't been as well recieved comercially or critically.

Tin Cup combines a sports movie with a romantic comedy, and both are actually pleasingly different. In featuring two relatively mature (in years if not attitude) characters the romantic storyline between Costner and Rene Russo - who have pretty strong romantic and comedic chemistry - feels less rote than usual. The golf storyline, while it ends, as expected, on a high note for Costner's washed up golf pro Roy 'Tin Cup' McAvoy doesn't quite go in for the last second victory that is the preserve of almost every sports movie ever made. Tin Cup doesn't radically depart from the cliches of either genre, but it shakes them up just enough to feel fresh.

This is also helped by the energetic and engaging performances. Kevin Costner; an underrated actor who always seems to be at his best as some sort of sportsman, gives one of his best performances as the neurotic McAvoy. He's especially good when he's nervously trying to ask Russo out, in the manner of a 14 year old boy asking the prettiest girl in school to prom. Russo is also good, she doesn't have quite as much to play as Costner, but she does funny and maturely sexy well. Tin Cup isn't a great classic, but it's an amusing couple of hours; it never feels baggy and it always remains fun, great escapism.

DIR: Pawel Pawlikowski

I always seem to forget, between viewings, just how dark this film about Yorkshire girl Mona (Natalie Press), and the summer over which she falls for upper class Tamzin (Emily Blunt), really is. Theere are certainly shades of other films in this one; echoes of Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures abound (a relationship between two girls, one of them upper class and a fantacist (Blunt here, Kate Winslet in Jackson's film) and, if anything, it bears that influence more heavily than that of the (TERRIBLE) novel the film is ostensibly based on.

If anything the story is a little banal and familliar, the only signifcantly new element coming in Paddy Considine's role as Mona's newly born-again brother Phil, but the performances, the music (by Goldfrapp) and the gorgeous images crafted by Pawlikowski, whose previous documentary work here gives way to something more impressionistic, all exceed the screenplay. For me it is Natalie Press, as the rather naive Mona, who really owns the film. She's able to turn on a dime from being broad and comic (as in a scene where she demonstrates to Tamzin how her older boyfriend would have sex with her) to something much smaller and heavier (The way she tells Tamzin "If you leave me, I'll kill you, and then I'll kill myself").

Considne also gives a remarkable performance; all repression, emotion held barely in check by his newfound faith, he's particularly outstanding when Tamzin tries to seduce Phil. I'm a little surprised that it was Emily Blunt who went from this film to a Hollywood career; she's beautiful, ceertainly, but while she's good here she's perhaps not as strong as Press and Considine. My Summer of Love is a beautifully made film, if perhaps a deceptively titled one, but it's one whose excellent performances allow you to get really wrapped up in the film's small, personal story.

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