At a time when we find ourselves to be at our most divisive and tensions built up all around us we all deserve to shut off from the world. Films will always have that power to transport us no matter what state we are in; with that in mind, it is stories of love and compassion that we should all treat ourselves to. A delightful new film entitled Summerland from first time feature director Jessica Swale is now available via streaming platforms. The story centers on a reclusive English woman during World War II who becomes the caretaker of young London boy evacuee.
The woman Alice is portrayed both young and old with Gemma Arterton playing her younger version while Penelope Wilton (The Best Exotic Marigold, Shaun of the Dead) book ends the film as Alice in her 70’s. At the film’s start Arterton is immediately captivating as curiosity surrounds this outspoken, brutally honest author. Equally as engaging is her young counterpart Frank played by Lucas Bond. Frank has been left alone as his father is fighting in the war and his mother works for the government. It is an immediate clash of personalities as Alice is completely reluctant to take on the task and Frank just wants some stability.
As much as Frank is the child of the two Alice throughout her time with Frank is able to learn new things about herself she did not know were there. We also learn more about how Alice came to be as well through flashbacks of a prior relationship with another woman named Vera played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Alice is a strong woman hiding a deep pain but with the aid of Frank she is able to overcome. Arterton portrays Alice with such an adamant demeanor that when she begins to open up it is all that more rewarding and satisfying. Her bond and growing relationship with Frank only strengthens that feeling more. There is an incredibly emotional moment for Frank but it is Alice who has to bear the weight beforehand that is extremely painful to watch. Here is a woman with no connection to this boy but in that moment we watch her process how she can possibly break this news to Frank.
As satisfying as it was watching Alice and Frank together the scenes between Alice and Vera were even more charming. A passing moment that results in a passionate love at a time where such relationships were inconceivable. Arterton and Mbatha-Raw’s chemistry is undeniable and you just want to watch them go on forever. Mbatha-Raw essence is infectious which makes Vera just ooze off the screen. The idea of Summerland goes back to an old Pagan belief that the afterlife is a shadow of our own world almost like a parallel universe. In these times it is comforting to think of such heavenly entities surrounding us but for the meanwhile we films like Swale’s that has the ability to offer all its viewers that warm feeling inside I believe we all deserve right now.
3 out of 5
Film is available now via multiple streaming platforms Here