I do like to be beside the seaside
Verdict: 6/10 - Summerland tells a sweet uplifting tale about forbidden love and loss
Release Date: 
Friday, July 31, 2020
Written by: 

Gemma Arterton plays a reclusive writer who is entrusted with a young evacuee from London.


Given the state of the world right now, we're all looking for something to warm our hearts and put smiles on our faces - and Jessica Swale's Summerland does just that.

The period drama, primarily set during World War II, follows Alice (Gemma 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 and believed to be 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.

At first Alice isn't interested in looking after him or giving him any attention, annoyed he's getting in the way of her life's work, but eventually they form a friendship, care for each other, and he helps her investigate myths, such as magical floating islands in the sky.

Through flashbacks featuring Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) in the 1920s, we learn more about Alice's history and why she is on her own and so grumpy and obnoxious, and we also get a glimpse of her in the present day, played by Penelope Wilton.


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 setting is beautiful, with the White Cliffs on the south coast of England often in the background.

Arterton puts in a reliably solid performance. She begins as this wild-haired crabby spinster who doesn't care what the town thinks of her and gradually becomes someone much kinder and more considerate.

Frank makes her think about somebody else for once and her hard attitude following years of hurt and isolation softens slowly but surely.

She has top support from the adorable Bond, Dixie Egerickx as his new school friend Edie, and Mbatha-Raw in a small yet pivotal role, while Tom Courtenay pops up as Mr. Sullivan, who has to deal with Alice's tantrums.

The story isn't particularly gripping or exciting and it is a bit too good to be true, yet Summerland is a sweet, uplifting tale that should put a smile on your face.

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