Review by Joe Pesci II found below..>!

Release Date: 14th June 2013

Director: Christopher Menaul (First Night / Feast Of July)

Cast: Emily Browning, Dominic Cooper, Dan Stevens, Hattie Morahan, Shaun Dingwall, Max Deacon, Mia Austen with Michael Maloney and Nicholas Farrell

Writer: Jonathan Smith



  • Emily Browning: American Gods (TV), Legend (2015), God Help The Girl, Pompeii, The Host (2013), Sleeping Beauty (2011), Sucker Punch, The Uninvited, Lemony Snicket’s- A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Darkness Falls, Ghost Ship, Blue Heelers (TV), The Man Who Sued God
  • Dominic Cooper: Mamma Mia 2, Stratton, Preacher (TV), Warcraft, Miss You Already, The Lady In The Van, Agents of SHIELD (TV), Dracula Untold, Captain America 2, Need For Speed, Reasonable Doubt, Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Slayer, My Week With Marilyn, The Devil’s Double,  Captain America, Tamara Drewe, An Education, The Duchess, Mamma Mia!, The Escapist, The History Boys, Starter For 10
  • Dan Stevens: Kill Switch (2017), Beauty & The Beast (2017), Night At The Museum 3, A Walk Amongst The Tombstones, The Guest, The Fifth Estate, Downton Abbey (TV)
  • Hattie Morahan: Beauty & The Beast (2017), Mr Holmes
  • Shaun Dingwall: The Forgotten (2016)Scar Tissue, Above Suspicion 2 (TV), Above Suspicion, Hush, Someone Else, Soldier Soldier (TV)
  • Max Deacon: Take Down, The Call Up, Into The Storm, I Anna
  • Michael Maloney: Born of War, Luna, The C-Word, Born of War, Sex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll, The Young Victoria, Notes On a Scandal, Babel, In The Bleak Midwinter, Hamlet (1996), Othello (1995), Truly Madly Deeply, Hamlet (1990), Henry V (1989)
  • Nicholas Farrell: Mindhorn, Another Mother’s Son, Remainder, Legend (2015), Mortdecai, Grace of Monaco,  The Iron Lady, Driving Lessons, Charlotte Gray, Beautiful People, Hamlet (1996), Twelfth Night (1996), Othello (1995), In The Bleak Midwinter, Greystoke – The Legend Of Tarzan, Chariots Of Fire

One thought on “SUMMER IN FEBRUARY

  1. SUMMER IN FEBRUARY review by Joe Pesci II

    Now, I’m all in favour of passionate film-makers moving heaven and earth in order to make vibrant, beautiful films about things that they passionately believe in; and if that means making films about love triangles featuring bohemian pre-war artists in Cornwall, then I say ‘make that film and make it well!’

    However, SUMMER IN FEBRUARY is a film so completely lacking in passion, indeed it is a film so overloaded with apathy, that one seriously wonders how it got made. On paper, there may be something here. It’s about a little known period in the life of a now little known (but once eminent) British artist by the name of Munnings (portrayed by Dominic Cooper), who I’d not knowingly encountered before. Munnings was part of an artistic commune in Cornwall. Into his life arrives a woman (poor, wasted Emily Browning– even though the film should be about her) eager to learn the art of painting. Meanwhile there’s an army officer (Dan Stevens who also co-produced), whose job it is to look after the artists, who promptly falls in love with her (and she with him if only she knew it). But he’s a very English officer, moulded from the stuff that made Trevor Howard and John Mills, and the stiffness of his upper lip prevents him from declaring his love. So Munnings swoops in and pops the question, even though he’s a cad who seems to have no interest in his bride, and a great deal of interest in Dan Stevens (who also co-produced). The film fails to follow through on this attachment and I’m beginning to wonder if I imagined it, but if I imagined it that makes the film even less interesting. It all ends in tears, though the first world war turns out not to be the big villain of the piece.

    How could it go wrong? A painter of genius in love with himself and with a decent but dim officer who is in love with an enigmatic, artistic woman who ends up marrying the painter of genius, it’s a great set-up. And yet, fail disastrously it does. They even manage to make Cornwall look glum and average.

    Dominic Cooper attempts and fails to channel the spirit of early Oliver Reed (circa 1963-73 when he was good). His attempts at brooding come across as teenage sulkiness. He’s not helped by the leaden script. We know that Munnings is a genius because the film employs Michael Maloney and Shaun Dingwall to turn up and say ‘he’s a genius’. We see no sign of this (his paintings are really quite average-looking, not that we see much of them). We also know he’s a wild and free Bohemian spirit. How do we know? Because he can recite huge, tedious swathes of Longfellow and Poe when down the pub, and can draw sketches really quickly, and hangs out with Romany gypsies. This broad brush approach might have worked if the film was made in a cartoony Ken Russell kind of way, but the approach is meant to be quiet and sensitive and mid-90s BBC like MRS BROWN.

    Dan Stevens (who was one of the film’s producers by the way) delivers the best performance, but that’s not saying much. He’s noble and conflicted and that’s about it. Emily Browning suffers prettily, but the film is insufficiently interested in her (even though it’s really her story). There’s decent enough work lower down the ranks, but you do wonder why they bothered. Michael Maloney has approximately one line. Nicholas Farrell quietly steals the film during his three minutes on screen. Hattie Morahan turns up long enough for you to wonder when she’s going to get a proper role. But the overall feeling is of waste.

    The film conjures up ‘early twentieth century Britain’ reasonably enough, but there is no sense of place, no sense of the prospective war, no sense of the characters’ conflicting emotions, not even any sense of the artists’ co-operative (they just sit around, have a dance, run around naked because they’re free spirits, recite Poe, that sort of thing).

    But for me, the nails in this film’s coffin come in the form of its dealings with and understanding of the art world. If you’re going to make a historical film about real artists you should have a darned good reason to do so. Here are a few good reasons: the artist is under-appreciated; the artist did something really important and this is what it was and how it was done; the artist was a genius but a swine. SUMMER IN FEBRUARY decides to use that last one as its reason. Except. Munnings was not a genius. (He does seem to have been a swine though.) Perhaps the film wanted us to think again and have another look at his work and re-assess his place in art history. But we see one picture of his wife on a horse, and even that’s only there to show us what a swine he was. So SUMMER IN FEBRUARY has nothing to say about Munnings the painter. So we’re just left with Munnings the swine (and tiresome reciter of verse). Does his swinishness have some relation to his artistic vision? Dunno, we learn nothing about his artistic vision.

    Did no-one working on this film do any research on Munnings and art? The art world was bursting with creativity in 1913, what with Picasso, Chagall, the Futurists, Matisse and Duchamp’s bicycle wheel. Meanwhile Munnings was painting horses. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, he clearly painted a decent horse. But this is not the tale of some unjustly forgotten cruelly neglected misunderstood figure. Munnings became an eminent establishment figure, and then faded into a well-earned obscurity. And he seems to have behaved abominably. (I suppose it’s good to see that vile behaviour isn’t just the province of genuine geniuses.) But why make a film about him? Maybe he was involved in some sort of fascinating story? Maybe. But it’s not the story told here.

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