Issue section: 

Director: Kenneth Glenaan; Release date: 5 December

Summer is about three friends, Daz, Shaun and Katie, and the harsh reality of their lives.

Daz is dying from cirrhosis of the liver and is still drinking. Shaun is not only his best friend but his carer, Katie, Shaun's one-time girlfriend has become estranged from him and Daz.

The film has two main story lines. One is Shaun's quest to let Katie know their childhood friend is dying. The other is that Daz's death sentence leads Shaun to remember their childhood together and, in particular, the summer in which they were 16.

Throughout his childhood Shaun had both Daz and Katie alongside. He plays with and defends Daz, while Katie is the girl next door whose parents don't approve of "rough" Shaun at all.

One of the most powerful parts of the film is the torture the young Shaun experiences because of dyslexia. The pain and frustration of his constant humiliation and failure at school leads to him becoming violent. In a disturbing scene, exam pressure leads him to harm himself and permanently injure one of his hands.

Summer is good at showing the hardships faced by people who don't "fit in" to the workforce. There is no sentimentality and the main characters are portrayed as strong and resilient. But although at times the film can feel dour there is no moralism. Even when you see Daz drink cans of beer despite it slowly killing him, you do not think of this as self-inflicted.

A thread of hope runs through the film, most especially in the love and trust in the friendships, and there are also a few funny and carefree moments. For example, we see the three friends riding bikes as kids and then as teenagers chased by a gun-toting farmer after Shaun and Katie make love by a lake within earshot of Daz and his girlfriend.

There are some nice cinematic touches. We hear but don't see those who exert control over the main characters' lives - illustrating that often what happens to us is out of our control. For example, we get no glimpse of the doctor who says Daz has only eight weeks to live, or of the head teacher who expels Shaun from primary school.

It is rare to see a film about working class people in such difficult circumstances, portrayed as characters with whom you can easily empathise and view as well-rounded people. To this extent we should welcome Summer. But as a piece of cinema it simply is not captivating enough despite some excellent performances, especially from Robert Carlyle. I would not recommend going to the cinema to see this. As a DVD it would be worth a shot, but not on a Saturday night.