Summer in February brings to life the appealing, Bohemian world of pre-WWI artists living in picturesque Cornwall, taking a very simple love triangle and making it an engaging story which just about manages to avoid feelings of being cliched or soppy. It’s adapted from Jonathan Smith’s novel of the same name and it is a pleasant period piece which starts strong but gets a little bit tied up when the key romantic relationship suddenly unravels.
Florence (Emily Browning) is the new girl, arriving at this bohemian compound and not short of suitors. Dominic Cooper’s character AJ is originally presented as something of a drunken, arty rogue before the rug is pulled from under us and he’s the most promising and talented of the group, cheekily paying off his bar tab with a rough little sketch. Both AJ and Gilbert (Dan Stevens) compete delicately for Florence’s affections which is where the film is strongest, before she becomes engaged to AJ, who in my opinion, she shares the better chemistry initially, even if the film might not see it that way. The film then becomes a bit problematic as it traces the immediate breakdown of their marriage. Florence attempts something drastic on their wedding day, an event that the film hadn’t built sufficiently towards to make sense for her character, half explaining why her rushed engagement might not have been the best idea for her, but the breakdown feels a little too sudden. More time could have been used to flesh out its core, but on the whole, an attractive little world and sense of community and place is presented warmly. Strong performances and some engaging characters provide enough to see it through its troubles.
Summer in February is out on 14th June in the UK. Running time 100 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
Review by David Rank