Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
For a film that involves a love triangle, mental illness, a Bohemian colony of free-spirits, an impending war and several important historical figures, the most exciting elements of Summer in February are the stunning shots of the English country and Cornish seaside. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the crashing waves and sun-dappled meadows that are used to bookend the scenes, as the entertaining opening never manages to coalesce into a story that lives up the the cinematography, let alone the lives of the people that inspired it.
Set in an Edwardian artist’s colony in Cornwall, Summer in February tells the story of A.J. Munnings (Dominic Cooper), who went on to become one of the most famous painters of his day and head of the Royal Academy of Art, his best friend, estate agent and part-time soldier Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), and the woman whom they both loved, aspiring artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). Her marriage to Munnings was an extremely unhappy one, and she attempted suicide on their honeymoon, before killing herself in 1914. According to his journals, Gilbert and Florence were madly in love, although her marriage and his service in the army kept them apart.
When the film begins, Munnings is the center of attention in the Lamorna Artist's Colony, dramatically reciting poetry at parties and charming his way out of his bar tab while everyone around him proclaims him to be a genius. When he’s not drinking or painting, he’s riding horses with Gilbert, who has the relatively thankless task of keeping this group of Bohemians in line. Their idyllic existence is disrupted by the arrival of Florence, who has run away from her overbearing father and the fiancé he had picked out for her in order to become a painter.
Stevens and Browning both start the film solidly, with enough chemistry between them to make their infatuation interesting. He manages to give Gilbert enough dependable charm to win over both Florence and the audience, and she presents Florence as someone with enough spunk and self-possession to go after what she wants. Browning’s scenes with Munnings are equally entertaining in the first third of the film, as she can clearly see straight through all of his bravado and he is intrigued by her and how difficult she is to impress. Unfortunately, while the basis of the love triangle is well-established and entertaining, it takes a sudden turn into nothing with a surprise proposal from Munnings.
Neither the film nor Browning ever make it clear why Florence accepts his proposal, especially when they have both taken great pains to establish that she doesn’t care much for him. But once she does, the films stalls, and both Stevens and Browning spend the rest of the film doing little more than staring moodily and longingly at the people around them. The real-life Florence was plagued by depression and mental instability, but neither the film nor Browning’s performance ever manage to do more than give the subtlest hint at that darkness. On a few occasions, Browning does manage to portray a genuine anguish, but rather than producing any sympathy from the audience, it simply conjures up images of a different film, one that focused more on Florence, and the difficulties of being a woman with a mental illness at a time when both were ignored or misunderstood.
Stevens is fine, and Gilbert starts out with the same kind of good-guy appeal the won the heart of Mary Crawley and Downton Abbey fans the world over. However, once the film stalls, so does his performance, and he quickly drops everything that made the character attractive or interesting in favor of longing looks and long stretches of inactivity. He does portray a convincing amount of adoration for Florence, although that's about the only real emotion that Gilbert expresses for the vast majority of the film, and even during his love scene, he never manages to give him any amount of passion.
Cooper does his best with what he’s given, and tries his hardest to imbue the film with some substance and drama. His Munnings is by turns charming, brash, and brooding, the kind of person who has been told all of their life that they are special, and believes it. He even manages to give the character some depth, and even though he and Browning have very little chemistry, he manages to convey a genuine affection for her. It’s a shame that Munnings becomes such a deeply unlikable character, because Cooper is the only thing giving Summer in February a jolt of life – even if it comes via bursts of thinly-explained hostility. It's hard to watch just how hard he's working to connect with his co-stars and add some excitement to a lifeless script and not wish that he had a better film to show off his talents in.
Unfortunately, by the time Florence and Gilbert are finally spurred into activity, the film has dragged on for so long that you’re no longer invested in the characters, their pain, or their love story, even if you want to be. Which is the real disappointment of Summer in February; underneath the stalled plot and the relatively one-note acting, there are glimmers of a fascinating and compelling story that’s never allowed to come to the forefront.
Born in Crieff, Scotland, drama school drop-out McGregor has been working steadily on the stage, in Hollywood and indie arthouse flicks ever since he wowed with his break-out role as a junkie in 1996's Trainspotting.
He's proved there's no part he can't tackle, portraying everything from a glam rock star to a priest and, of course, a Jedi Knight.
To salute Ewan on his special day, WENN has opened up the archives and dug up 10 facts about his life.
- Early on in his career, McGregor shared an apartment with another aspiring actor - Jude Law.
- He met his wife, French production designer Eve Mavrakis, after he was cast in an episode of the U.K. legal drama Kavanagh QC.
- In 2001, McGregor received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.
- McGregor was nearly a superspy - he was approached to play James Bond in the 2006 blockbuster but turned down the job, which went to Daniel Craig.
- Before playing Obi-Wan Kenobi, McGregor was already a Star Wars fan - his uncle, actor/director Denis Lawson, played an X-wing pilot in all three original Star Wars movies.
- McGregor is Hollywood's go-to guy for full-frontal nudity - he's bared all in a number of his films, including Trainspotting, Velvet Goldmine, The Pillow Book, and Young Adam.
- He and Mavrakis have three daughters, including Clara Mathilde, Esther Rose and Jamiyan, who the couple adopted from Mongolia.
- He was the best man at Dougray Scott's 2000 wedding to casting director Sarah Trevis.
- A motorcycle enthusiast since his youth, McGregor and his pal Charley Boorman hit the road for four months in 2004 to travel from London to New York. The pair embarked on another international motorcycle marathon in 2007, biking from Scotland to South Africa, and they have plans for a third adventure later this year (11).
- He shares his birthday with stars including Christopher Walken, AC/DC rocker Angus Young and Rhea Perlman.
The Mission: Impossible II star complained last month (May10) that U.K. family courts stop divorced fathers from spending time with their kids, admitting he barely sees his twin son and daughter, Gabriel and Eden, now 12.
He told Britain's Sunday Times, "I'd like to put the people who made this system up against the f**king wall and shoot them... I would like to see my children more often than I do. The legal system... goes the other way, against men. It's a very unjust system but you have to work within it."
But the mother of his kids, Sarah Trevis, argues that it is Scott's Hollywood lifestyle and not custody regulations that come between him and his children, who live in London.
She tells Britain's Mail on Sunday, "Dougray's views are very virulent on this subject. He feels he's been done a massive disservice. There's a constant implication of injustice. But that's just not the case... Dougray’s very keen on saying that actions speak louder than words. Well, he last saw Gabriel six months ago and Eden at half-term (summer break) when he took her for lunch. Last year he lived across three different continents. How does that work with the children going to school and having a stable life?
"If you have money and your own way for a long time you assume that’s what’s going to happen in every aspect of your life. But children aren’t like that, you don’t own them and thankfully the family courts pay no attention to celebrity, power or riches.
"The family courts are often attacked but they are meticulous. Judgements aren’t based on whimsy."
And casting director Trevis insists Scott should not be openly airing his opinions about the matter - because it upsets their children.
She adds, "Gabriel read the interview his father gave and was upset by it. It's difficult. He's still their father. The twins are old enough to be aware of things now and when their father aggressively and openly dislikes their mother it's unsettling. I feel misrepresented."
Scott and Trevis divorced in 2005. The actor is now married to Claire Forlani.
Actress Kate Winslet pulled out of the London premiere of her new film Enigma just hours before the event on Monday, upsetting many of the fans who had hoped to catch a glimpse of her.
In a statement, Winslet said that in the light of "recent personal events," she felt it would be better to stay out of the limelight, Reuters reported.
"I'm very sorry not to be there to celebrate the premiere of Enigma of which I'm very proud and also to pay my respects to those lives lost in the recent tragedy in New York," Winslet said.
The premiere was due to be her first public appearance since she split from film director Jim Threapleton on Sept. 3 for undisclosed reasons. The couple met on the set of her 1997 film Hideous Kinky, got engaged within months and married the following year.
"In light of recent events I feel that, for the sake of myself and my family, a short time out of the spotlight would be beneficial," she said.
Threapleton and Winslet have an 11-month-old baby named Mia. "Kate is a good mother," Threapleton told the British paper The Mirror. "We are looking forward to having a positive future with Mia. That's the only important thing at the moment."
The couple continues to run their production company, Telltale Films, which aims to develop and produce U.K.- and European-based films together.
Adapted from the best-selling novel by Robert Harris, Enigma is a tale of wartime code breakers. It was also produced by Mick Jagger's production company, Jagged Films.
"She's not afraid of terrorism, but she is afraid of the British press," Jagger told The Associated Press. "She's having a bit of a problem, I think, being in the spotlight."
According to Reuters, the media speculated that the 25-year-old actress was having an affair with Enigma co-star Dougray Scott, but Winslet has denied the rumors.
Scott arrived at the premiere with his wife, Sarah Trevis, and was surprised when he learned that Winslet was not turning up.
"I didn't know she wasn't coming, it's none of my business," he told BBC News.
Among the attendees were guest of honor Prince Charles, actress Saffron Burrows, and Jagger's father and his daughter Elizabeth, who were there to support the rocker.
Director Michael Apted dedicated the film to the New Yorkers who are still suffering from the Sept. 11 tragedy.
Having recently flown in from the U.S., Apted said he observed "a great deal of strength of spirit and numerous stories of the many, many people who are trying to save lives," BBC News reported.
"The mayor Rudolph Giuliani was telling people to go out and visit friends and pick up their lives. And it is in that spirit that I introduce Enigma."
Julie Walters shines as Bernie McPhelimy a working-class mother of four who is sick to death of living on the front lines. In curlers and a housecoat she chews out a gunman shooting from her welcome mat as if he were a naughty child. But it isn't until her best friend is shot dead while looking after one of Bernie's kids that she turns from Valium to activism. Daring to criticize the IRA as well as the British army Bernie becomes the town pariah though her gumption turns her into an unlikely celebrity. Ostracized and bullied by their friends her kids -- especially adolescent Ann who just wants to keep her new boyfriend -- resent her and suspect all this fame is going to her head.
In her best film role since "Educating Rita " Julie Walters shows she still has a surplus of piss and vinegar. Her Bernie also displays a sardonic (if exhausted) wit and an all-too-human ego as her fame spreads. While Ciaran Hinds is effective as the ulcer-addled apprehensive husband and Nuala O'Neill gives an appropriately mopey angst-ridden performance as Ann vibrant supporting performances by the townspeople really bring soul and humor to this film.
Quite different from his last film the glossy fluffy "Notting Hill " Rodger Michell's "Titanic Town" is a small indie with many fine miniature moments such as Bernie's preoccupation with the dust bunnies under the bed as British soldiers forcibly search her home. With a spate of IRA films preceding it Michell's is the only one to really show "The Troubles" through a mother's eyes.