Review: ‘Summerland’ is charming family love story.

During World War II, reclusive writer Alice has her sequestered life upended when Frank, an evacuee from the London Blitz, is left in her care. Despite initially resolving to be rid of him, Alice finds herself and her emotions reawakened by him.

This is a surprising script. Filled with whimsy and an unexpected love story. Gemma Arterton plays two distinct sides of one woman. She is a lonely recluse, working day in and day out on her academic thesis. She was once a free spirit with an open heart. Her performance is stunning. Lucas Bond as Frank is simply darling. He represents a new start for Alice. He cracks her curmudgeonly shell. Through his innocent curiosity, her walls slowly come down. He is extraordinarily perceptive. She shares her studies in folklore. This leads to inevitable magic about the script, highlighting the location, and letting the score shine. His performance is a revelation.

Dixie Egerickx as Edie, Frank’s suspicious classmate is a wonderful addition to the story. She essentially represents both the townspeople and Alice, all at once. Her wit and hardened confidence match Alice at every turn. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is simply lovely as Alice’s long lost love. Their flashback scenes are lush with color and you can almost feel them radiate through the screen.

The screenplay and editing are gorgeous. It hones in on Alice’s abandonment trauma. This explains Alice’s writing. Summerland, mythic pagan heaven. This seems like a perfect escape for her emotionally fraught past. There is a pretty shocking twist that will leave you breathless and more invested in the story than you thought possible. Summerland is a beautiful film that deserves an audience.

Jessica Swale is an Olivier award-winning theatre director and was hailed as one of Variety’s Brits to Watch in 2019. The film stars Gemma Arterton (THEIR FINEST, VITA AND VIRGINIA), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, BELLE), Penelope Wilton (DOWNTON ABBEY, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE), and Tom Courtenay (45 YEARSDOCTOR ZHIVAGO). Subject to theater availability, IFC Films will release the film in select theaters and on VOD/Digital on July 31st, 2020

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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