Tell it to the Bees certainly means well but the reality is that 1950s British love story could very well be something that transpires today.
Based on Fiona Shaw’s novel, the film tells the story of how Lydia Weekes (Holliday Grainger) and son Charlie Weekes (Gregor Selkirk) came to be involved with Dr. Jean Markham (Anna Paquin). Dr. Markham hadn’t lived in the small British town since leaving as a teenager. She’s town returned to take over her now-deceased father’s medical practice. Anyway, Charlie finds himself visiting her office when he needs surgery after an incident at all. Next thing you know, Charlie’s talking to the bees in the garden. With the two of them now befriending each other, it leads Dr. Markham to meet Charlie’s mom. One thing leads to another…
It’s no surprise that Charlie’s parents had a falling out with each other. It’s not just that the rest of the town views Lydia as an outsider but Robert Weekes (Emun Elliott) ups and leaves her. The nerve! Have you no shame?!? Things will eventually change for the worse when Robert learns about Jean and Lydia. It’s the classic homophobia that we still see alive and well today. Even in viewing the film as a time capsule, some things just don’t change. Can’t people be allowed to just love who they want? Is this really that hard to do?
It’s not la film in which it’s love at first sight. The script allows their friendship to naturally grow to the next level. As a film, it’s all the better for it.
The three leads here are terrific. Both Paquin and Grainger deliver great chemistry on screen. This is the first credited feature performance for Gregor Selkirk and he does a stunning job to say the least. The bees are as much of a character as the three leading performers. They play such an important role in the film.
Mild spoiler alert but Charlie lets the hive out to swarm very late in the film. While this plays out visually in a stunning way, I’m surprised nobody is freaking out. I’m as afraid of bees as the next person but I’d be freaking out in this instance. Next thing we know, the bees are swarming all over the house. Mind you, people left their windows open in this era.
At its core, Tell it to the Bees teaches us that love is love.
DIRECTOR: Annabel Jankel
SCREENWRITERS: Henrietta Ashworth and Jessica Ashworth
CAST: Anna Paquin, Holliday Grainger, Emun Elliott, Steven Robertson, Lauren Lyle, Gregor Selkirk, and Kate Dickie