Ask the Reader: favourite summer films and series

 – Mamma Mia!

If you are a lover of ABBA, Greek islands, or sunshine – Mamma Mia! is a must on your summer to-watch list. From the sudden outbursts of ABBA songs in the idyllic island of Skopelos to short summer dresses and laughter – this movie is the physical embodiment of summer. Focusing on preparations for Donna’s daughter Sophie’s wedding, who has a particular eagerness to discover her real dad, Sophie invites three of her mother’s past romances to Skopelos – Bill, Sam, and Harry.

Her enthusiasm drives the plot, with the intention that her real dad will walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. Despite the plot’s simplicity, this movie is overflowing with energetic dancing and singing – an energy that radiates through the TV screen. From flamboyant props to tours around the picturesque island that reflects an array of whites and blues, this movie will inevitably put you in a summer mood.

Even if you have not watched Mamma Mia!, you will doubtlessly know half the songs, some a little too well. The infectious ‘Dancing Queen’ musical number is impossible to not sing along to at the top of your lungs. Performed by Donna’s friendship trio, it remains a fresh and beautiful scene that shows there is no age limit to fun. Excitedly running around the island, the locals sing along with them, with the infamous song ending on them freely jumping into the glimmering ocean. This scene particularly fills me with nostalgia as I reminisce on my adventures in Greece filled with infectious laughter, crystal clear water and pure happiness.

It is a breath of fresh air – pure escapism. This is heightened by its narration through the female standpoint, where it celebrates all the joys of womanhood, from being a mother and daughter to a friend and lover. It advocates all body types, sizes and shapes, there is no standard of perfection, no judgement – just women enjoying themselves in not only a Greek, but also a patriarchy free paradise.  

 – The Durrells

Loosely based on the autobiographical Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell, my series recommendation to set a summer mood is The Durrells. Set in the late 1930s, the show follows a family of poor yet tweedy Brits – matriarch Louisa (played superbly by Keeley Hawes) and her four eccentric children – as they escape their grey existence on the shores of Bournemouth beach for the sparkling, sun-kissed tracks of inter-war Corfu. With incredible shots of their rustic Greek villa, and a sweeping score capturing all the joys of youth, opportunity, love and loss, The Durrells really is a masterclass in summer escapism.

Keeley Hawes does a tremendous job as the programme’s protagonist Louisa, a warm, witty figure largely unappreciated by her children. Firstly, there’s Larry (played wonderfully by Josh O’Connor of The Crown fame) – a brilliant yet obnoxious vision in Breton stripes clicking away furiously at his typewriter, and his equally eccentric siblings: Leslie, Margo and Gerry. And of course, their menagerie of assorted animals. The Durrells is the perfect accompaniment to the summer mood, an organic production that gently teases the idiosyncrasies of Englishness abroad and leaves you longing for life and love under the Corfu sun. 

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