Summerland: Film Review


Gemma Arterton excels as a grumpy obnoxious woman who is forced to look after an evacuee in Jessica Swale‘s lovely directorial debut Summerland.

Primarily set during World War II, Summerland follows Alice (Arterton), a reclusive author who debunks folklore and myths and lives on her own in a house by the seaside in a small town where she is teased by local children who joke that she’s a witch. Her peace is interrupted when she is entrusted with caring for Frank (Lucas Bond), a teenage evacuee from London. She is reluctant to let him stay and asks for him to be given to another family, but while that process happens, they have to learn to live with and tolerate each other.

I loved watching Arterton go from this crabby spinster who doesn’t care what the town thinks of her to somebody more kind and considerate. Frank makes her think about somebody else for once and her hard attitude following years of hurt and isolation softens slowly but surely. You learn throughout flashbacks to the 1920s featuring Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) why Alice is on her own and so unhappy.

Despite the period setting, the movie takes on contemporary themes and tells a lovely – albeit very sentimental – story about forbidden love and loss, with magical floating island spotting in between. The seaside setting is gorgeous and really made me appreciate the stunning English coastline.

Arterton puts in a reliably solid performance, supported by Mbatha-Raw in a small yet pivotal role, the sweet and adorable Bond, while Dixie Egerickx is great as his friend Edie, Tom Courtenay pops up as Mr. Sullivan from the school, and Penelope Wilton appears briefly as the older Alice.

There is nothing wrong with the story, except it’s a bit too sweet and too good to be true, but it didn’t particularly captivate or excite me. Some people have been raving about it but I didn’t think the flashbacks with Vera were substantial enough to give us an emotional connection to their story. While I’m not hyping up the film like many others, I must admit that it’s a lovely, pleasant watch, it’s heartwarming, and should put a smile on your face.

In cinemas Friday 31st July. You can find a comprehensive list of U.K. cinemas showing the movie here

Rating: 3/5

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