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Tell It to the Bees


Stars: Anna Paquin, Holliday Grainger, Gregor Selkirk, Emun Elliott, Kate Dickie, Lauren Lyle, Steven Robertson, voice of Billy Boyd

Director: Annabel Jankel

Thiis is a rather affecting film about the ramifications of a lesbian affair, and it's no disrespect to it to say that it would make an excellent two-parter for TV at 9 o'clock on a Sunday evening.

The setting is a small Scottish town in 1952, where minds are smaller than a crofter's sitting-room - hardly the ideal time and place for such a then-illicit liaison, with the arrival of the new doctor (Paquin) prompting the disapproving Pam (Dickie) to comment that she 'was made up wrong'.

Pam's sister-in-law Lydia (Grainger) who, like many of the townswomen, works at the local mill, has a brutish husband (Elliott) about to leave her, is behind with her rent and scarcely able to look after her 10-year-oild son Charlie (Selkirk).

Sacked from the mill, she is soon pouring her heart out to Dr Jean, who invites her to stay as housekeeper at her inherited country home, where the bees and their hives already have Charlie fascinated.

The boy soon proves the central pivot in the sometimes grim drama to follow, and he's well acted by young Selkirk. Grainger is also very good, Paquin not so much, and the romance between them sometimes gets a touch too melodramatic.

The film's final scenes are quite moving in a Call the Midwife fashion and, if things get a bit too metaphysical regarding the bees, the rounding-off of the plot is entirely satisfactory. Splendidly, sensitively photographed by Bartosz Nalazek, this is perhaps occasional director Jankel's best work to date.

David Quinlan

UK 2018. UK Distributor: Vertigo. Technicolor.
108 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 15 Jul 2019