"“A compelling picture, and one that will certainly appeal to its target audience...”"

While French period drama Renoir is soon to be released in Britain, we've got our own picture similarly set in the same period, also focusing on the strenuous love traingle amongst painters and their models. However where Renoir is exuberantly French, Christopher Menaul's Summer in February is undeniably British, and, somewhat surprisingly, it's the latter which depicts romance more poignantly, in what is a more rounded and well-crafted production. 

Set amongst the Edwardian artists' colony in Cornwall at the beginning of the 20th century, we focus on the inspiring and liberating Lamorna Group, who welcome in Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning) when she arrives from London to stay with her brother. At the heart of this bohemian society is AJ Munnings (Dominic Cooper), considered to be one of Britain's most influential and promising young artists. Although Florence starts to fall for land agent Gilbert Evans (Dan Stevens), when she begins to model for the beguiling and confident Munnings, the pair soon agree to marry, though the naïve and beautiful youngster starts to regret her decision, as a tempestuous love triangle transpires amongst the three creatives.

Summer in February does not exceed expectations as such, yet remains a compelling picture, and one that will certainly appeal to its target audience, which, in theory, is what truly matters, and it's hard to leave disappointed as a result. However whether Menaul has truly captured the essence of the 1910's remains to be seen, as though this potrayal of such a time is based around the conventionalities of the genre, rather than being a unique and sincere attempt to depict the actual era of its own accord. Downton Abbey has a lot to answer for. That said, there is no denying the picturesque aesthetic, as the cinematography is illuminating and works wonderfully as a placid backdrop to this moving narrative.

The casting is also spot on, as not only is Browning a sympathetic lead, but she completely looks the part too, as her pale complexion and whole demeanour has this classic quality to it that perfectly suits the genre at hand. Cooper is also impressive, as he has this natural magnetism to him and a charm that the character of Munnings requires, as we need to understand why he is admired so fervently by his peers. In order to comprehend Florence's predicament and therefore find empathy within it, we need to believe there was one a genuine attraction to Munnings, and to believe that she could see something in him, we need to see it ourselves. However on the whole we certainly don't like the character, he's a unsubtle narcissist who comes across as a complete arse the vast majority of the time.

Growing weary in the latter stages, Summer in February does certainly lag in the middle. Such tedium leads to a detachment from our protagonists, as the shallowness that exists at times becomes prevelant, detracting from the heartbreaking poignancy of the narrative. That aside, there remains a lot to be admired about this production, and it will no doubt satisfy, and in some cases titillate the audience it is striving to reach. The title of the piece, which is deliberately ironic, also goes so far as to prove that despite the fact this film is set exactly 100 years in the past, the weather in England was still just as bloody awful.