Summerland (2020)

Summerland (2020)

A surprisingly comforting period drama about a reclusive lesbian scholar in World War II

7.6

Movie

United Kingdom, United States of America
English
Drama, Romance, War
2020
FEMALE DIRECTOR, JESSICA SWALE
Amanda Lawrence, Amanda Root, Casper Allpress
100 min

What it's about

A woman during the Second World War opens her heart to an evacuee after initially resolving to be rid of him.

The take

Named after the Celtic concept of heaven, Summerland is a rare queer period drama that feels hopeful rather than despairing. The film takes us to the countryside in World War II, where our protagonist, the reclusive writer Alice Lamb (Gemma Arterton), studies the folklore about Summerland. We know that her isolation wasn’t fully chosen; her refusal to marry causes adults to gossip and causes children to speculate that she’s a witch. But this all changes when a young evacuee is entrusted to Alice’s care.

Gemma Arterton shines as a reluctant guardian stifled by repressed grief, and she makes Alice’s dynamic with Frank (Lucas Bond) and her former lover Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) incredibly believable. And while it would have been lovely to see more of Vera, even just their first meeting easily captures that heady sense of pure enchantment with another person. It’s no wonder that Alice has to cling to folklore the same way we do. For many of us, it’s the only way we can express our hopes, fears, and dreams.

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