Summer in February - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Summer in February Reviews

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½ May 23, 2013
In 1913, young society girl, Florence (Browning), arrives at an artists' colony in Cornwall, hoping to develop her painting skills. There she falls for the abrasive and arrogant painter, AJ Munnings, who is tolerated by his friends purely because they consider him a genius (he's subsequently become known as history's best painter of horses). Munnings' friend, Gilbert Evans, is cut from an entirely different cloth, a shy, reserved former soldier. Evans falls for Florence but keeps his feelings to himself and, when Munnings proposes to the girl, she accepts. Once wed, however, Florence begins to realize she may have made a bad choice.
In Woody Allen's 'Sweet & Lowdown', Sean Penn portrays the world's second best guitar player ("there's this gypsy in France"). Like the painter, Munnings, he's gruff and conceited, his sociopathic attitude only rendered permissible by his talent. The only girl who can truly fall for him is a deaf mute, played by Samantha Morton. Oblivious to both the beauty of his chords and the horror of his tongue, only Morton's character can accept him without prejudice. Florence has no such disability, and therefore no such excuse, for accepting Munning's belligerence. Even her Father disapproves of the marriage, which makes her putting up with Munning frustrating to watch. The writer, Jonathan Smith, (adapting his novel), tries to paint (pardon the pun) Florence as a tragic figure, but she instead comes off as a victim of her own making. The movie's first half takes great pains to build up the idea of Munnings as some kind of monster but, in the post-wedding second half, Florence's paranoia and possessiveness garner audience sympathy towards the pugnacious painter. She accuses him of acts we never actually see him commit, which makes her come across as little more than an unreasonable harpy.

With copious full-frontal nudity from its young female stars in the opening half hour, 'Summer in February' begins like a homage to the sort of soft-core porn continental Europe churned out during the seventies. Those movies always seemed to feature an innocent young girl seduced by an older, worldlier artist, usually a painter or photographer who she would conveniently pose nude for. Even the outdoor scenes are photographed with a similar "Vaseline on the lens" aesthetic. These alfresco moments are handsomely mounted but, when indoors, the movie resembles those production line period dramas British TV networks are so fond of. If you're a fan of the likes of 'Downton Abbey', this will probably satisfy your tastes. For the rest of us, watching 'Summer in February' is a bit like posing for an artist for two hours only to be shown a picture of a turnip when the canvas is revealed. The artist is probably satisfied with himself, but it's not exactly what we paid for.
½ January 3, 2015
A bland romantic period drama that starts off interesting enough, as there are a lot of early 20th-century poetry, paintings, and music involved. However, staying for the whole 100 minutes duration of the film is a regrettably sour experience. The love story is transformed into complete disarray, as the Murphy's law went into full effect in the most painful way possible (without having to go into the horror genre). Dominic Cooper, Dan Stevens, and Emily Browning gave great performances, but apart from that, this film is not worth watching unless you have a masochistic streak.
September 14, 2014
Overview: A period drama in which a woman decides between slightly boring but dependable, and a talented, slightly erratic, artist.

Trigger Warning(s): Scene of attempted rape

Review (with Spoilers)

It has been almost a year since I have last seen an Emily Browning movie, and while I could have certainly watched Pompei, I didn't want to since it seemed so bleh. However, with Summer in February I thought this was going to be a cute period drama, something which could work well for Browning since she seems destined, due to her porcelain doll looks, to be in quite a few British period dramas. But with her not having the best record when it comes to movies, at least with me, does this one continue the trend or break it?

Characters & Story

After having a fight with her father about a man who was the perfect match for her, Florence (Emily Browning) runs away to live with her brother Joey (Max Deacon) in the pursuit of not just getting away from their father, but also to paint. And what better a place to end up for with the great AJ Munnings (Dominic Cooper) sharing the same circle as Joey, as well as Harold Knight (Shaun Dingwall), there are many possible teachers and mentors in town. Though it seems with Florence's beauty, these artist would prefer her to replace local model Dolly (Mia Austen) over really providing tutelage. So she has to force the point she came to learn to paint.

However, in the pursuit of justifying her stay to her father, she ends up attracting two men. The first being AJ, the wild and passionate painter, and then Gilbert (Dan Stevens) who is this calm, cool, and collected military man. And while the film, at first, presents Florence as a girl who isn't looking for love, just good company, knowledge, and maybe someone to match wits with, she soon falls for one of these boys and the quality of the film falls with it.

Praise

As noted in the introduction, Browning certainly has the perfect look for a period drama. Add in the right amount of cheekiness she possesses in her voice, as well as a look which screams naivety, innocence, and perhaps privilege, and I think you have a prime candidate for a Jane Austen adaptation. However, in terms of this story, while Austen-esque sarcasm isn't on display, for the first 40 or so minutes Browning is quite a sight and her character Florence seems like someone who demands to be taken seriously. With this you are presented a rather interesting picture in which a woman seems to not mind male attention, even enjoys it a bit, but seems committed to becoming a better artist over anything else. Which, for me, I thought was a perfect direction for the film. Though with it being based on a true story, and set in the early 1900s, I should have knew it was too good to be true.

Criticism

If just because, unfortunately, with Florence falling in love, or perhaps more so in great admiration, her story as an artist slips away as she ends up a love interest. One who seemingly picked the wrong man, slowly loses reason to draw, and becomes a bore to watch. Mostly due to all her wit, and any sense of moxy, just disappearing. Making the hour after she becomes married, at first, a bit interesting since we see her deal with insecurities and what not, but after a while things feel like they are just dragging on and it makes you wish what happened in those first 40 minutes still was going on rather than the mess you are left with.

Overall: TV Viewing

Despite rarely giving any Emily Browning film an overall positive review, I do remain a fan. Not just because I think she is attractive either, if anything I think it is because she certainly has talent, but the issue is she doesn't find films which are good throughout. They start off strong but once the drama starts to really kick in, usually the film falls apart. Which is what leads to the TV Viewing label for this film since the film started good, not strong but good, and I liked seeing Browning use her great ability to seem vulnerable, a bit cheeky, and certainly someone who could hold her own against not just the male gaze, but all the talent around her. However, once she got diminished to a love interest it was all downhill. Her life became about who her husband may have been with, her wondering if she made the right decision, and then her wanting to escape from her husband. All making for the type of drama done far too much for this film to not put any effort into trying to stand out and make things interesting.
August 15, 2014
This was a depressingly, morbid love story. The cast was phenomenal, but the story was a real downer.
½ May 9, 2014
Christopher Menaul (Feast of July) directs this romantic drama based on Jonathan Smith's 1995 novel of the same name about a group of real-life Bohemian artists living in an ocean-side art colony known as the Newlyn School in Cornwall, England, in the early 1910's. Amongst the group of artists is the young Alfred Munnings (Dominic Cooper - The Devil's Double) who is later elected president of The Royal Academy of Arts (in 1944) and his best friend, the peered land agent/non-artist Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens - 'Downton Abbey'). The arrival of the young aristocratic Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning - Pompeii) -- who likes to dabble in the arts -- excites Alfred and the two quickly become a romantic pair ... although things become terribly complicated when Gilbert decides he is in love with the girl as well. It is highly apparent to everyone in the community that the love triangle cannot end well. The film really wants to be something special but there is simply nothing compelling here and the characters as written are not ones anybody would really root for. The Cornish landscape is the lone wonderful take-away from this movie; but that is not reason enough to recommend this dismally depressing and dire waste of time.
October 27, 2015
Fairly poor. We watched this while in early 1900s mode, but it proved less impressive than the fictional tales recently on BBC. This one is factual, and as often, facts are less moving than art. Dan Stevens hasn't moved very far from Downton here, and he should. Florence Carter-Wood comes across as weak and quite cowardly in her use of poison to escape from harsh reality. Munnings was no doubt a bastard, and that no doubt contributed to his success at the RA. It's not an uplifting tale, and it's not told well here either.
½ June 14, 2015
I should have read the critics comments before watching.
½ May 2, 2015
Wasn't really paying attention to the movie... only got more interesting towards the end. true stories should hold a higher value... but just didn't really see much. still somewhat entertaining
½ January 3, 2015
A bland romantic period drama that starts off interesting enough, as there are a lot of early 20th-century poetry, paintings, and music involved. However, staying for the whole 100 minutes duration of the film is a regrettably sour experience. The love story is transformed into complete disarray, as the Murphy's law went into full effect in the most painful way possible (without having to go into the horror genre). Dominic Cooper, Dan Stevens, and Emily Browning gave great performances, but apart from that, this film is not worth watching unless you have a masochistic streak.
½ March 15, 2014
Turned it off, was slow, boring story.
September 14, 2014
Overview: A period drama in which a woman decides between slightly boring but dependable, and a talented, slightly erratic, artist.

Trigger Warning(s): Scene of attempted rape

Review (with Spoilers)

It has been almost a year since I have last seen an Emily Browning movie, and while I could have certainly watched Pompei, I didn't want to since it seemed so bleh. However, with Summer in February I thought this was going to be a cute period drama, something which could work well for Browning since she seems destined, due to her porcelain doll looks, to be in quite a few British period dramas. But with her not having the best record when it comes to movies, at least with me, does this one continue the trend or break it?

Characters & Story

After having a fight with her father about a man who was the perfect match for her, Florence (Emily Browning) runs away to live with her brother Joey (Max Deacon) in the pursuit of not just getting away from their father, but also to paint. And what better a place to end up for with the great AJ Munnings (Dominic Cooper) sharing the same circle as Joey, as well as Harold Knight (Shaun Dingwall), there are many possible teachers and mentors in town. Though it seems with Florence's beauty, these artist would prefer her to replace local model Dolly (Mia Austen) over really providing tutelage. So she has to force the point she came to learn to paint.

However, in the pursuit of justifying her stay to her father, she ends up attracting two men. The first being AJ, the wild and passionate painter, and then Gilbert (Dan Stevens) who is this calm, cool, and collected military man. And while the film, at first, presents Florence as a girl who isn't looking for love, just good company, knowledge, and maybe someone to match wits with, she soon falls for one of these boys and the quality of the film falls with it.

Praise

As noted in the introduction, Browning certainly has the perfect look for a period drama. Add in the right amount of cheekiness she possesses in her voice, as well as a look which screams naivety, innocence, and perhaps privilege, and I think you have a prime candidate for a Jane Austen adaptation. However, in terms of this story, while Austen-esque sarcasm isn't on display, for the first 40 or so minutes Browning is quite a sight and her character Florence seems like someone who demands to be taken seriously. With this you are presented a rather interesting picture in which a woman seems to not mind male attention, even enjoys it a bit, but seems committed to becoming a better artist over anything else. Which, for me, I thought was a perfect direction for the film. Though with it being based on a true story, and set in the early 1900s, I should have knew it was too good to be true.

Criticism

If just because, unfortunately, with Florence falling in love, or perhaps more so in great admiration, her story as an artist slips away as she ends up a love interest. One who seemingly picked the wrong man, slowly loses reason to draw, and becomes a bore to watch. Mostly due to all her wit, and any sense of moxy, just disappearing. Making the hour after she becomes married, at first, a bit interesting since we see her deal with insecurities and what not, but after a while things feel like they are just dragging on and it makes you wish what happened in those first 40 minutes still was going on rather than the mess you are left with.

Overall: TV Viewing

Despite rarely giving any Emily Browning film an overall positive review, I do remain a fan. Not just because I think she is attractive either, if anything I think it is because she certainly has talent, but the issue is she doesn't find films which are good throughout. They start off strong but once the drama starts to really kick in, usually the film falls apart. Which is what leads to the TV Viewing label for this film since the film started good, not strong but good, and I liked seeing Browning use her great ability to seem vulnerable, a bit cheeky, and certainly someone who could hold her own against not just the male gaze, but all the talent around her. However, once she got diminished to a love interest it was all downhill. Her life became about who her husband may have been with, her wondering if she made the right decision, and then her wanting to escape from her husband. All making for the type of drama done far too much for this film to not put any effort into trying to stand out and make things interesting.
August 15, 2014
This was a depressingly, morbid love story. The cast was phenomenal, but the story was a real downer.
May 10, 2014
A tepid effort that falls short of the mark. Viewers will find the bland plot and weak characterizations not worthy of attention.
½ May 9, 2014
Christopher Menaul (Feast of July) directs this romantic drama based on Jonathan Smith's 1995 novel of the same name about a group of real-life Bohemian artists living in an ocean-side art colony known as the Newlyn School in Cornwall, England, in the early 1910's. Amongst the group of artists is the young Alfred Munnings (Dominic Cooper - The Devil's Double) who is later elected president of The Royal Academy of Arts (in 1944) and his best friend, the peered land agent/non-artist Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens - 'Downton Abbey'). The arrival of the young aristocratic Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning - Pompeii) -- who likes to dabble in the arts -- excites Alfred and the two quickly become a romantic pair ... although things become terribly complicated when Gilbert decides he is in love with the girl as well. It is highly apparent to everyone in the community that the love triangle cannot end well. The film really wants to be something special but there is simply nothing compelling here and the characters as written are not ones anybody would really root for. The Cornish landscape is the lone wonderful take-away from this movie; but that is not reason enough to recommend this dismally depressing and dire waste of time.
March 16, 2014
Wish I'd checked out the reviews before watching this. A load of lazy boring rubbish.
½ March 11, 2014
I had many problems with this. Aside from the fact that it lacks charm, is bland, features uninteresting characters, and, has a painfully clichéd-riddled story, it simply gave me no reason to care for any of the characters involved despite its "tragic" story. What was most disappointing was that the cast delivered strong performances, which were unfortunately wasted here.
February 16, 2014
Love, infidelity and suicide among the Newlyn Group. Oh dear. Such production values. Such hats. SO many good actors acting. Such coastal scenery. Nice dog. And all for nothing. I am glad I decided to polish the brass, for which useful activity this dreary and undercharacterised tale is a suitably anodyne backdrop.
February 10, 2014
I have no background knowledge of the subject matter so I don't know how accurate it was. The film seemed a bit disjointed at the end.
December 31, 2013
There's not really much good that can be said about this film. So I'll just say it was nice to see Dan Stevens again, since he no longer appears in Downton Abbey.
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