Saturday 30 July 2011

From the archive: "Summer"

After a couple of notable TV movies (Gas Attack, Yasmin), director Kenny Glenaan finally lands a theatrical release with Summer, a sharp, thoughtful and touching drama about two lifelong friends - the quiet, introspective Shaun (Robert Carlyle) and mouthy, reckless Daz (Steve Evets) - who now share an antagonistic relationship as caregiver and wheelchair-bound cirrhosis sufferer. When Daz is given a couple of months to live, Shaun sets about tracking down the third member of their teenage gang: his former love Katy (Rachael Blake), now working for a solicitors in Chesterfield.

That last plot point suggests a certain limitation of scope, but Glenaan here attempts to go beyond the nitty-gritty of social realism (terminal illness, learning difficulties) towards something more langorous, indeed haunting: there are becalmed flashbacks to the trio's idyllic summer days as teenagers on a nearby lake, and Glenaan and writer Hugh Ellis find a novel and striking location in Daz's council house, already cramped and slowly filling up with ghosts.

It's also funny: at its best, the film approaches the salty humour of Raining Stones (producer Rebecca O'Brien is a long-time Ken Loach collaborator, while Evets apparently has the lead in Loach's next production [Looking for Eric]) or A Room for Romeo Brass. Some of the details get away from the filmmaker - a physical mismatch between the older and younger Katies threatens, momentarily, to break the spell - but Glenaan is developing nicely, forever attentive to the essentials of character and place. Good, too, to see Carlyle, who's done a lot of work for hire lately (Eragon, anyone?), back in a project on which he can bring all his passion and intelligence to bear.

(December 2008)

Summer screens on BBC2 tonight at 2.20am.

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