Mona (Press), a disillusioned, working-class teenager, finds an unlikely ally in the shape of Tamsin (Blunt), a rich girl struggling to get over the death of her sister. What starts out as an innocent friendship, however, quickly spills into something more intense - causing conflict between Mona and her devoutly religious brother (Considine).
Pawel Pawlikowski's The Last Resort was one of the best-received British films of recent years, picking up countless critical plaudits and establishing its director as one of the brightest new talents around. The good news is that his latest effort, based on Helen CrossÆ 2002 novel, is just as impressive. It's a gentle, intimate coming-of-age drama that revolves almost entirely around three characters, and is all the better for it.
While the storyline is a tad predictable (it's all too easy to see where the girls' friendship is going), Pawlikowski's sharp script and keen eye for characterisation prevent the film from becoming dull or resorting to cliche, instead creating believable protagonists that it's easy to care about. The central trio are all superb - newcomer Press is a real find, while Considine adds another terrific performance to his CV as a man who's given up everything for God.
Visually it's a treat too: the countryside backdrops are used to full effect and the lush furnishings of Tamsin's privileged life contrast sharply with the stark realities of Mona's. In Pawlikowski's hands, what could have been a depressing, heavy-going experience is instead affecting and sweet.
Well-told and well-acted, this further establishes the director as a major talent, while proving that not all British drama needs to be frowningly worthy.