Summerland Image

Summerland

By Alan Ng | July 30, 2020

Alice and Frank’s relationship starts rocky. Alice wants absolute silence to work on her research, and Frank just wants to be a kid. An opportune moment arises as Alice needs to drive to the coast for research and takes Frank with her. Here she bonds with Frank as she’s researching this myth of floating castles and the legend of Summerland—think of it as a spiritual dimension that is overlaid on top of ours, or simply, we walk with spirit. Alice approaches Summerland from an academic, skeptical approach, while Frank believes in the spiritual and fantasy.

My biggest frustration with Summerland is three major plotlines mixed like a tossed salad. Each plot is interesting to watch as well as engaging, but transitions from one to the next can clash with the good feelings generated by the previous. The third storyline comes in the third act as a twisty reveal that honestly pulled me out of the movie for a moment. Remaining patient, it would soon explain itself and enhance the final act.

“Alice approaches Summerland from an academic, skeptical approach, while Frank believes in the spiritual and fantasy.”

My favorite plot is between Alice and Frank played marvelously by Arterton and Bond. Alice comes off as the skeptic, and Frank is the imaginative child. While we’ve seen the child-melts-heart-of-adult story before, this one is sweet and refreshingly restrained. Arterton’s Alice melts, but still maintains her stoic personality. The two are there to help one another through the uncertainty of the war’s outcome.

The LGBT elements of Summerland are also intriguing as Alice has shut herself off from finding love and hiding who she is. In return, she finds loneliness and isolation and becomes a target of town gossip and ridicule. The payoff is a wonderfully, sweet ending.

Summerland (2020)

Directed and Written: Jessica Swale

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Courtenay, Lucas Bond, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Summerland Image

"…Arterton’s Alice melts, but still maintains her stoic personality."

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