18th Dec2020

‘Summerland’ VOD Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lucas Bond, Penelope Wilton, Tom Courtenay, Toby Osmond, Dixie Egerickx | Written and Directed by Jessica Swale

Ever since the super low budget and criminally underrated Disappearance of Alice Creed (if you have not seen it check it out), I have been a big fan of Gemma Arterton; she is easily in the top 5 or 6 actresses we have on our British shores. So with that in mind, I am always keen to see the latest films she features in. Sprinkle in a whole dose of actual global virus events and a somewhat upbeat hopeful movie about evacuees during World War 2 might just be what the doctor ordered…

Arterton plays Alice, a shut off reclusive writer, spending her days researching folklore and writing her new book in the picturesque setting of the seaside cliffs of Southern England while World War II rages on in the background. After a knock at the door Alice is confronted with Frank (Lucas Bond) a young boy from London forced to evacuate his home, she wants none of it. What follows is a somewhat awkward and tense relationship that develops over time as the two realize they have more in common in their pasts than Alice had assumed or maybe she is clouded by her own insecurities that she hadn’t even cared to find out.

Summerland is not really treading any new ground here in terms of the “evacuee coming to the countryside routine”. It’s a tried and tested story that has, and will, always strike a chord with viewers and rightly so. BUT there is a very fresh angle to the flick whereby our main character of Alice is not just hiding from the War and everything that entails but also we find out through flashbacks she is gay in a time of little acceptance. Which serves as a very pallpable layer to this character that Arterton exquisitely portrays with maximum subtlety.

What this does for me is creates an incredibly beautiful bond between Arterton and Bond, they are both trying to understand their place in the scheme of things but the one thing they absolutely understand and accept is each other. I don’t think I have seen a more perfectly written story of this ilk than what Jessica Swale has put to screen in a good long while.

Gemma Arterton continually gets better and better in flicks but here she is given a deeply layered character to play with. Young Lucas Bond is wonderful with a number of key scenes cementing this kid as one to watch, actually his young female co-star Dixie Egerickx is also great. Tom Courtneay is as always spot on, Penelope Wilton is dependable as ever. Gugu Mbatha-Raw nails her role once again.

Everyone is great and plays their role well however the absolute stars of this movie are the Cinematography and the score… This score really does a lot of the heavy lifting, as it should too because a lot of what is happening on screen is very understated with character beats often being moments of no dialogue and a ton of emotion, but the score in the background puts your mind into a state of emotion the way any good score should.

It’s no real secret that war movies always do well on DVD and VOD, it’s why we get about 20 a year. Summerland though is a highlight in a sea of middling movies. This film has a ton of heart, surprises and is just really well written, scored, shot and directed! Jessica Swale not only gives the action sequences (the trip to London) the big moments but also the personal character moments seem just as huge.

**** 4/5

Summerland is available on DVD and Digital now.


Comments are closed.