Hollywood in Toto

‘Summerland’ Offers a Masterclass in Twee Storytelling

A film ought to have solely so many tinkly piano preparations in its rating.

Overdose on these saccharine sounds, and also you’re veering into Harlequin romance turf. Or worse.

“Summerland” commits that sonic sin amongst different transgressions. If not for a bravura lead flip the movie is perhaps a forgettable, albeit well-intentioned, portrait of bigotry and therapeutic.

Gemma Arterton stars as Alice, a girl so foul tempered the neighborhood boys stuff her mailbox slot with grime and particles. You might blame the instances, maybe. The story is about in Southern England throughout World War II, and cities like London are beneath assault from German struggle planes.

That means a few of Alice’s fellow residents are taking in “evacuees,” kids quickly deserted by dad and mom preventing the struggle effort or made casualties from it.

Now, it’s Alice’s flip, and she or he’d reasonably do the rest than settle for younger Frank (Lucas Bond) into her residence. The lad is nice and affected person, however the irascible Alice desires to pound away on her typewriter with zero distractions.

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It’s not a spoiler to say Alice ultimately sweetens to Frank’s presence, and thru a sequence of flashbacks we be taught why she’s so bitter about, nicely, every little thing. Meet Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the love of Alice’s life.

Clearly one thing went awry, and we endure by scenes so sticky candy they’d make a Hallmark govt blush.

And that hints on the larger points plaguing “Summerland.” The story’s edges have been sanded to a boring, uncomplicated floor, and author/director Jessica Swale’s screenplay telegraphs each emotion. Yes, these treasured piano strains grate on us, however how else would you rating these sequences?

FAST FACT: Gemma Arterton is the founder and proprietor of Rebel Park Productions, a shingle devoted to bringing extra girls into the filmmaking fold.

The Alice/Vera romance performs out like a rom-com parody, and the cultural tells of their forbidden love could be worse — even when the interracial aspect by no means will get talked about. Watching an oblivious (woke?) youngster cheer Alice up is to see fashionable mores grafted onto a sequence set 75-plus years in the past.

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Yet we care, at the least just a little, as a result of Arterton gained’t have it every other means. The actress commits absolutely to the function, and seeing her register the ache and pleasure bullet pointed by the script is to look at a star rise miles above the fabric.

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Swale deserves credit score for not lecturing us concerning the period’s racial and sexual prejudices, however that delicate contact might have addressed the problems in a extra satisfying vogue.

Even the Alice/Frank connection, which understandably takes time to construct, is marred by plot contrivances that sap it of its good will.

There’s an enormous ol’ twist deep into the film, and whereas it is smart on a sure degree it’s additionally one other extremely manipulative be aware, the boldest of the movie.

Just throw it on the pile, eh?

HiT or Miss: “Summerland” could be stunning at instances, and the romantic longing at its core can’t assist however resonate. The relaxation is pure manipulation, and second price at that.

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