Saturday 3 February 2024

Movie Review: Summerland (2020)

Genre: Drama  
Director: Jessica Swale  
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Courtenay, Penelope Wilton  
Running Time: 99 minutes  

Synopsis: After a short prologue set in 1975, most of the movie takes place in the early 1940s, in a small village near Dover, England. Alice Lamb (Gemma Arterton) is a local writer and researcher of folk legends involving women, and is mostly shunned by the community for being single and anti-social. Alice is forced to host Frank (Lucas Bond), a child evacuee from the London Blitz, and despite herself forges a connection with the boy. In flashbacks, Alice recalls her one great love with Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).

What Works Well: The scenery is beautiful, and matches the lyrical evolution of Alice from angry and lonely to caring and connected. Gemma Arterton delivers a forceful central performance filled with unapologetic purpose, but also shines in moments requiring sensitivity. Director and writer Jessica Swale adds sprinkles of humour, and introduces the one narrative twist with a deft touch. The story takes place on the sidelines of World War Two, but the conflict casts a long shadow upon dynamics in an idyllic small community.

What Does Not Work As Well: The flashbacks to an interracial lesbian relationship, plus strong currents of anti-religious and pro-feminist sentiments, are wedged into the wartime context with heavy-handed clumsiness.

Conclusion: The post-bitterness journey is sweet, but also burdened.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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