At the beginning of her summer holiday, Mona (Nathalie Press) a red-haired, naive adventurer meets Tamsin (Emily Blunt), a spoiled, sarcastic private school student. Perhaps because Mona looks up to Tamsin for her sophistication and knowledge of things she is unaware of, or perhaps because Tamsin is interested in Mona for her naivete — they slowly become inseparable.
Tamsin is strong-minded and reckless on the exterior, but quite the opposite on the inside. Tamsin can accomplish her daring acts by means of Mona’s existence and the power she can initiate from her presence. Emily Blunt brilliantly portrays Tamsin’s angst as well as the phony defiance in her character. She uses this rebelliousness to mask her fears and Mona becomes her ideal partner-in-crime.
In contrast to Tamsin’s affluent audacity, Mona is free-at-heart. Unable to connect with her born-again Christian brother, Phil (Paddy Considine), Mona is first attracted to Tamsin simply because she needs a friend. Nathalie Press perfectly communicates the bright-eyed innocence of Mona. Mona looks up to Tamsin, and her exotic world of Edith Piaf and red wine.
Blunt and Press shared the Evening Standard British Film award for Most Promising Newcomer. Evidently, the dazzling performance of the duo is what brought Pawlikowski’s film international acclaim. In addition to offering outstanding portrayals of their characters individually, they convey the accordance of Mona and Tamsin with great ease. The layers of their intimate relationship are put forth perfectly. However, even though the two actors complement each other flawlessly and Considine gives a great performance as Phil, the film lacks a certain substance.
The grainy cinematography and the shaky camera work feel trite and pointless. The storyline is unrealistic at times and the characters — though they are executed with flair — appear unreal. The plot doesn’t offer enough to hold the audience’s attention and the ending feels expected and tedious. The only good thing about the ending is the expression on Mona’s face. It is as if the ending negates the dreamy love affair of Tamsin and Mona that the film tries to get across, or perhaps it shows that there never really was a love affair. In any case, the end takes more than it adds to the film.Rating: B-