Directed by Paul Pavlikovsky, starring Nathalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine and Dean Andrews.

A story of love, the lack thereof and desperate dependence is energetically evoked in 'My Summer of Love', a tender yet hard-hitting portrayal of the raw emotion of growing up, from award-winning director Paul Pavlikovsky ('Last Resort').

In the Yorkshire countryside two teenage girls from very different backgrounds unite to make an unstoppable pair. Tomboy Mona (Press) and spoilt rotten Tamsin (Blunt) are worlds apart in everything but a dream, a fantasy to be for a fleeting moment something other than what they are and to escape the reality of their somewhat loveless lives.

Mona lives with her born-again Christian, reformed criminal and alcoholic, brother Phil (Considine), in a tavern that he has pulled apart to create a place of worship for his prayer meetings. Lacking a normal family upbringing, after the death of her mother, she reaches out to older men for affirmation of her worth, never seeming bothered about the consequences of her actions.

Tamsin could not be more unlike her chance friend. Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she has been raised as privileged as one might hope for. Whereas Tamsin talks about her favourite bathroom in her country estate mansion, Mona mentions her favourite rock in the wild countryside where she feels more at home.

Bowled over by Tamsin's rich, extravagant lifestyle and her sheer confidence, Mona takes to spending all her time with her neighbour, engrossed in the intrigue of the other girl's life. As her brother spirals out of control with his religious obsession, Mona is further driven to confide in her new friend, resulting in a passionate, and eventually destructive, love affair developing between the two.

Relative unknowns Nathalie Press and Emily Blunt are extraordinarily at ease in delivering heartfelt and touching portrayals of lives gone askew from a tragically early age. Their thwarted love affair is convincing in its depth, through the sheer passion they exude. Paddy Considine also turns in a commanding support performance as born-again Christian Phil, perfectly capturing the highs and lows of a character on the edge.

'My Summer of Love' is a wonderful take on privilege versus struggle, with the gifted, pampered Tamsin eventually emerging from the whole scenario more scarred than the strong-willed, if neglected, Mona. It is a beautiful look at the power of the human mind and the will of the individual to overcome circumstance.

Shot against a backdrop of wild summer countryside, the film is magnetic to watch, with the wilderness of the landscape aptly complimenting rugged Mona's desolate situation in life. Its eerie score further serves to enhance the prevailing moods throughout, from alcohol-induced elation to impending treacherous doom.

A charming, if slightly un-nerving, look at fantasy, infatuation and the lure of pastures greener.

Linda McGee