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TIFF 2018: Tell It To The Bees
September 11, 2018
Now, for someone such as me that has a slight phobia of bees, I have to say, this movie might have helped me overcome that a little. While it took me a step of bravery, (there are a lot of bee close-ups) I realised whilst watching this beautifully heartwarming film, that it too speaks of courage in many different forms throughout.
Set in stunning Scottish countryside, a curious young school boy called Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) gets into a scrap at school and finds himself having to pay to a visit to the new local doctor.
Dr. Jean Markham, (Academy Award winning, Anna Paquin) has just returned to the small Scottish town to take on ownership of her father’s surgery. She’s a kind, quiet and seemingly guarded young woman, whose past romantic affiliations seem to have a way of catching up with her through the gossip train as she moves from village to village trying to remain discreet and private.
She and young Charlie share a common fondness of the bees that are hived at her large property. She observes how inquisitive he is about them and encourages him to visit and talk to the bees to let them know his secrets and life’s concerns. In doing so she teaches him that the more he shares with them, the more they’ll learn to know and trust his voice. With things at his home in a state of distress and with his loving mother Lydia (Holliday Grainger) sensitively struggling to get by financially, (having recently been neglected by her husband) Markham takes a fondness to them both and offers them support and friendship.
Like a honey bee to a flower, deeper affections between Jean and Lydia begin to blossom that neither had planned nor imagined, and in a postwar Great Britain with eyes looking on in judgment and detest, the two begin to help each other conquer their brokenness and bravely challenge the status quo for the sake of love. This of course doesn’t come without its huge conflicts and consequences.
This film, directed by the talented Annabel Jankel, is glowing with breathtakingly striking scenes on warmth between both actresses, whose chemistry together is floorless and award worthy. From Lydia’s blushed cheeks to Jean’s cautious glances, love is captured so gently it’s hard not to feel utterly captivated watching things unfold. Additionally, love and trust is seen between mother and son learning to live without lies between them and between Charlie and his black and yellow friends with stingers.
For those of you that aren’t really into the romance genre, I’m here to tell you that the storyline isn’t all as sweet as honey thought-out. Adapted from the novel by Fiona Shaw, the film is about love laced with risk and between writers (screenplay by Henrietta and Jessica Ashworth) and director Annabel Jankel, they’ve projected a real reminder on the historical realities regarding sexuality that include instances you can’t not find distressing. There are times when you’re lifted out of your scenes of swoon and you are heavily reminded that in this generation views were so oppressively tunnel-visioned, that if a same sex or mixed race relationships was heard of, life would likely be made dangerously difficult for those involved.
It’s absolutely a movie not to be missed, very lovable and also very hard hitting, you can’t help but boil with love towards them. I have a feeling that this will get my Toronto International Film Festival’s (TIFF) Grolsch People’s Choice Award vote, and at this huge event, that’s a big deal! So, please go and see this one, it’s truly a wee winner.
Tell It To The Bees is premiering at TIFF 2018, release date set for later in the year.
Words by Lisa Coleman @Lisa_D_Coleman.