Jeri Jacquin

Coming to selected theatres, VOD and Digital from writer/director Jessica Swale and IFC Films comes the story of reality and the line between to SUMMERLAND.

Alice (Gemma Arterton) is living in a house away from the town of Kent during World War II. Having the reputation as a grouchy recluse, she is constantly harassed by the local children and avoided by the local adults.

Her days are finger locked onto the keyboard of a typewriter discovering the mysteries and mythology of a place called Summerland. That is, until a knock on the door. The townspeople have all opened their homes to the children of the war and Alice is no different. Standing in front of her is Frank (Lucas Bond), a young boy from London whose father is a pilot and mother works for the government.

Alice is not thrilled by any stretch and makes it clear to Mr. Sullivan (Tom Courtenay) that he must find another place for Frank. Told it will take a week, a relationship slowly begins between Alice and Frank as, through her grumpiness, she shares her research. Much to her surprise, Frank is excited to know more.

This all brings Alice to think about a person from her past, Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who showed the writer more about life that she could have imagined. Frank has made friends with Edie (Dixie Egerickx) and everyone is finding their happiness.

Unless the sadness of war causes Frank to run towards sadness, Alice to follow and secrets to all be revealed.

Arterton as Alice is absolutely marvelous. She is a character that has sealed herself off from the world, doesn’t hold back her opinion on anything and has the town making sure to give Alice a wide birth. Watching her form an attachment to Frank is rough but slowly becomes a realization that her solitude has kept her from a true and fulfilled life. I just adored the pace of Alice and Arterton made that an amazing journey.

Bond as Frank is a young boy who knows he must be away from his parents. Unmoved by Alice’s attitude, he finds friendship with classmate Edie and explores his Kent surroundings. He is inquisitive, funny and sees so much good in the world. Bond’s performance is charming and opposite Arterton, steals the film.

Mbatha-Raw as Vera has a dream of her own and it becomes a wedge between she and Alice. Their friendship leaves a deep mark in them both and follows Alice until meeting Frank. Mbatha-Raw is lovely from beginning to end. Egerickx as Edie is a mini-Alice and Frank is okay with that part of their friendship as well. This young actress gave her character such depth and is as equally as guarded.

Courtenay as Mr. Sullivan is witty, charming and a man who clearly tries to understand Alice. His character is not judgmental and has such a way with everyone around him. His roles of late have been so endearing and a bit comical with wit and I am just thrilled he is on the screen.

Other cast include Amanda Root as Mrs. Lawrence, Jessica Gunning as Mrs. Bassett, David Horovitch as Albert, and Aoibhine McFlynn as Cass.

IFC Films is a leading distributor of quality talent-driven independent films. Some of the company’s successes include BOYHOOD, FRANCES HA, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, TOUCHING THE VOID, CHE, TINY FURNITURE and CARLOS. For more information on films from IFC please visit http://www.ifcfilms.com.

SUMMERLAND is a beautiful film about friendship, longing, war, loyalty, curiosity, mythology and the need for something tangible to explain the mysteries of life. I thoroughly enjoyed this film on so many levels that target those things that make us such complex and emotional carbon-based units.

The cast brings performances that bring tears, giggles and the realization that both Alice and Frank may be onto something regarding the quest we all have for Summerland. It is a lovely thought and even when the phenomenon is explained, it does not take away from the dream of such a place because, after all, that’s what we are – dreamers.

SUMMERLAND deserves all the recognition it can get for story, direction, cinematography as well as cast and crew for bringing this film to us. In a time of such harshness and grief, SUMMERLAND offers a respite in the midst of its own harshness and grief with charm, grace and, more importantly, love.

In the end – it is all with love, magic and hope!