Tuesday 23 July 2019

Tell it to the Bees - film review

Set in a small Scottish town in the nineteen fifties, Tell It To The Bees is the story of Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) whose father, returned from the war a changed man, walks out on his marriage. Charlie's mother Lydia (Holliday Grainger) works all the hours she can in a mill to try to keep a roof over their heads.

Jean (Anna Paquin) has returned to the village to take over her dead father's medical practice. She treats Charlie after he is hurt by bullies at his school and introduces him to her bees. She encourages him to tell his secrets to the bees and he starts keeping a nature diary based on his observations of the hives. 

Charlie's friendship with the doctor leads to his mother becoming friends with Jean too. When Lydia is threatened with eviction, Jean offers her a job as her live in housekeeper. The two women find themselves drawn into an intense friendship which develops into a sexual relationship. But gossip travels quickly in a small town and lesbian relationships weren't considered normal in the 1950s so the new household that the three are creating together is threatened right from the beginning. 

The bees are present throughout, as confidants to Charlie and playing an important role in the plot at one point too. 

It's in many ways an excellent film, the main characters and their relationships are believable (though Paquin's Scottish accent slightly less so) and the story sheds a light on the repressive attitudes of a 1950s small town community.

This is based on the novel by Fiona Shaw, though the ending has been changed (If you've seen the film, you may like this excellent article by Shaw about what she thinks of the ending).

Tell it to the Bees is screening at the Filmhouse until Thursday 25 July. 

Cross posted to my Shapeshifting Green blog here.


Simon Douglas Thompson said...

A curious bit of casting to have Anna Paquin in a piece like that. Perhaps the producers felt they needed a name actress to secure funding

Sandy said...

I am going to look for this book. It looks like something I would enjoy.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi Simon, Paquin was good in the role (apart from the accent) and she may just have seen it and thought 'that sounds interesting'. It would perhaps have been better casting though to choose a Scot!