It is not fair to criticise a film for looking too good. Beauty can be deceptive, disguising weakness with classical form.
Summer In February, scripted by Jonathan Smith from his novel, based on real events, reinforces the truism that bohemian types use poetry as a seduction tool and art as a method of getting a girl’s kit off.
The colony of painters and their groupies in Lamona, Cornwall, in the early years of the 20th century, indulged in a cry of recognition amongst creative undergraduates who swooned over the concept of sex without boundaries. Essentially a love triangle between the artist Alfred Munnings, ex-soldier turned land agent Gilbert Evans and the ravishingly naive Florence Carter-Wood, the film twists in a familiar wind.
Passions flare, horses gallop, waves crash. Pretty clothes complement pretty landscapes and pretty people play silly games with ugly consequences.
If only the dialogue had provided the characters with depth and understanding instead of forcing them forward at breakneck speed. There is no time to absorb the subtleties that linger in the mind’s eye rather than on the screen.
Dominic Cooper is miscast as Munnings. His lightweight ease feels abused by the artist’s vile behaviour. Emily Browning as Florence is stranded by contradictions and Dan Stevens, fresh from Downton, cannot find the charismatic hook in Gilbert’s unrequited desires.
However flawed the film may be, the cinematography is magnificent and your heart bleeds for a better outcome.