Summerland. Quick Review

We are long enough into the current global pandemic initially released in the UK using a premium video on demand price strategy are starting to appear as incredibly cheap rentals on several different VOD platforms. A £2 30 day rental (85% off the films initial price point)is worth taking a chance on. Such is the case with this British LGBTQ drama. In 1970s Kent Penelope Wilton plays a cantankerous older woman who has managed to build a career as a folklore investigator in the area throughout her life. The main narrative then takes place during the Second World War. A younger version of the central character ( Gemma Arterton) takes responsibility for an evacuee boy during the Second World War. Interspersed flashbacks sketch out a previous relationship between the central character and Gugu Mbatha Raw. For 2/3 of its runtime, the film is a little bit inconsistent but pleasant British drama. The script’s a little unsure of how sympathetic Arterton’s character is meant to be especially in the scenes where she’s interacting with the child now in her care.
The narrative flirts with the kind of wholesome approach you might see in tamer versions of this narrative. Its also clearly wanting to establish part of that central relationship as being something audiences might see from the darker side of Roald Dahl or even a much more grounded version of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Nevertheless, the cinematography is stunning and Arterton delivers very strong work in the central role. These sections of the film might be not quite living up to the potential of the lead performance. but they are solidly entertaining throughout. Then the third act hits. On a very basic level, the third act delivers exactly what would be expected from discerning viewers given the initial setup. That said how the plot beats are played out both through the script and performances are practically perfect in every way. it’s a stunning, hugely emotionally resonant conclusion that elevates a film that had been solid up until that point into the realms of greatness. For as predictable as the narrative is Summerland is one of the best British films of the year and deserves to be sought out by film fans as one of the best films released during the pandemic.
8/10

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