Tell It to the Bees: Film Review

Tell It to the Bees is one of those period LGBTQ films that make you appreciate how far society has come, but also have far it still has to go.

The setting is a small town in Scotland in 1952. Holliday Grainger is Lydia, who has become a single mother to Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) after her husband Robbie (Emun Elliott) recently left her for another woman. When she is fired from her job and evicted from her house, she gets taken in by her friend, Dr. Jean Markham (Anna Paquin), to serve as her housekeeper, causing many whispers in town about the nature of their friendship, as Markham has recently moved back to her hometown to take over her late father’s practice, years after leaving in a cloud of controversy.

Tell it to the Bees starts off as a meandering, average drama but it takes some dramatic twists and turns that I never could have predicted. I was captivated watching the relationships develop between the main three – Charlie, Lydia and Jean – and was intrigued to see how their stories would pan out, but they were let down in a few ways.

The biggest letdown was the ending and the whole bee thing becoming more involved in the story than necessary. The plot was strong enough on its own without them and you really have to suspend your belief when they get involved in a major dramatic moment. It was cute that Charlie grew to love Jean’s bees and tell them his secrets, but it was also very obvious when they were CGI and when they weren’t, which removes you from the story. I have not read Fiona Shaw’s novel, but I have discovered the very end is completely different, and I would have preferred the book version.

The other letdown is Paquin’s accent. She gives the Scottish brogue a solid try but it’s inconsistent and obviously put on, especially compared to her Scottish co-stars. She still gives a good performance though, portraying Jean as this closed-off, reserved and cold woman (you realise why later on), while Grainger’s Lydia is warm and sympathetic and the most convincing member of their romance. Selkirk also deserves a shoutout. The film is told through his eyes and he has a lot of grown-up, emotional work to do. I was so impressed.

Tell It to the Bees tells an interesting story about forbidden love in less forgiving times, but unfortunately, it doesn’t quite do its important story justice.

In selected cinemas Friday 19th July 

(Rating: 3/5)

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