Gemma Arterton plays Alice. Alice is a writer and researcher kind of person. She is also a recluse. She also lives in Southern England.
That seems fine.
The problem is that people don’t like her, and kind of rightly so. How so? Well, not to give an early scene away, let’s just say that Alice has the opportunity to be a nice but, just as you think she might not be that bad, she takes all the items from the counter at the corner store.
Welcome to the movie “Summerland.”
Yup, Alice doesn’t seem to care about people. Combine that with her being a recluse and, well, she also gets tormented by the local kids who think she’s a witch, or a nazi, or that woman who will kill you in your sleep.
Enter Frank (Lucas Bond).
Frank is a young lad who is an evacuee from London, and Alice is being made to temporarily adopt Frank. You see, when London was being bombed during World War II, many children were evacuated to the outskirts of England so they wouldn’t die in the bombings while their parents stayed behind to be part of the war. Yay, save the children!
Well, here is Alice, a woman with no motherly instincts nor any desire to appreciate nor help anyone, now stuck with a young lad who is scared yet still adventurous as young lads might be.
Frank works to get acclimated for it’s unsure how long he’ll be away from his parents, and what better way than at a school. There he teams up with a girl named Edie (Dixie Egerickx), kind of the tomboy/outcast kind of girl, who is freaked when she finds out that Frank has to stay with the “witch and maybe Nazi,” Alice.
Life is weird for Frank.
As the movie moves along we get flashbacks to Alice in her young woman days, finding love with someone she can’t spend her life with, and we begin to see how Alice progressed to the jaded woman she has become.
The problem for Alice, though, is Frank, because Frank is actually interested in what Alice is researching and writing about, and yes, you can guess, they venture into a friendly relationship with Alice trying to figure out some of the motherly things she isn’t ready for.
The thing is that up to this point I’m mostly enjoying the movie. It’s progressing as a nice story of how Frank is able to get Alice to live life again and care about people, and most things are easy to figure out as you have the flashback stories of Alice in love with someone in the wrong era, a boy away from his family during war, then loss, then survival.
Then the “Oh, come on!” moments begin as it seems everything tries too hard to make you weepy.
I mean, if you didn’t see the foreshadowing leading up to Frank’s father dying, I apologize for that spoiler, but that seems so obvious from the arc of the story that it was inevitable. And that was fine, but then the progression to my going “Nice going, Edie!” started to lead to the story going where I didn’t think it needed to.
Gosh, this is so hard to write without giving things away, but let’s just say that I was happy with Alice and Frank just helping each other with life that I didn’t need other people to show up nor attempted plot twists to make the story more creative.
This was a little too bad for me because it made the movie kind of a mess at the end, trying to add too many things to “happily ever after” instead of just Alice bonding with Frank in circumstances no one would desire.
The movie, is, however, well done in terms of acting and looks. Gemma does a wonderful job transitioning from the recluse to the woman whose heart opens back up to people, and Lucas does good work playing a young lad just looking for stability in the craziness. The movie also looks beautiful, especially with the scenery of England, although the war scenes in London seem a little stagey.
Look, I can understand how some will find the “tying everything together” super sweet and tear-jerky, but I really just wish they would have let the movie get through the sadness then let Alice and Frank develop as a family. At the end it just seemed to try too hard.
It’s 3 stars out of 5 for Summerland. It’s nice, you might get weepy, but you also might just say “I didn’t need that plot twist.”
The Blu-ray had some extras, a weird behind the scenes that was just “outside” video of the movie sets, with no narration, and it’s got the standard interviews if those are your cup of tea. Not a huge reason to search for the Blu-ray, so feel free to nab this on the digital formats.
That’s it for this one! I’m Andy! L8R!!