Margaret is a melancholy young woman who has a bad case of pre-marital jitters in her suburban home outside London in 1959. She is set to marry Syl, a 40 year old who lives next door with his widowed mother, Mrs. Munro. He's the worst sort of fellow a narcissist who doesn't know he's a bore.
Margaret's mother, Monica, is the only one who seems to believe in this match. Of course, her motivation is understandable she doesn't want to see her daughter a spinster. Meanwhile, Margaret is troubled by dreams about her exotic trip to Egypt six months earlier. It turned out to be an unforgettable encounter with God, the Flesh, and the Devil. Secretly, Margaret wants to become a nun.
Martin Sherman has done a fine job adapting Alice Thomas Ellis's novel, The Clothes in the Wardrobe, for the screen. The thematic focus is upon the fears, regrets, dreams, and yearnings of women in regard to love, sex, marriage, memory, soul, and identity. Director Waris Hussein makes the most of the exceptional cast including Joan Plowright, Julie Walters, Lena Headey, and, most importantly, Jeanne Moreau.
Margaret's fate seems sealed until the flamboyant Lili arrives. This free-spirited friend of Monica's is half Egyptian, half English, and a breed apart. She wins Margaret's confidence, exhausts Monica, and befriends the dour Mrs. Munro, even though they are temperamentally worlds apart.
Lili is the capstone role of Jeanne Moreau's illustrious career. Here she gets to play a Zorba-the-Greek-like woman whose zest for life transforms all who come in contact with her. In the surprising finale, Lili gives Margaret just what she needs. The spiritual message of the film is that no woman should live down to the expectations of others. Dare to be yourself and let what happens happen. The Summer House is a total delight!