Tell It to the Bees (2018)

Tell It to the Bees
Director: Annabel Jankel
Writer: Henrietta Ashworth, Jessica Ashworth
Based on: Fiona Shaw‘s novel
Cast: Anna Paquin, Holliday Grainger, Gregor Selkirk, Lauren Lyle, Kate Dickie, Joanne Gallagher, Emun Elliott, Billy Boyd
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 10.9.2018

Jean (Anna Paquin) is a doctor who returns to her small hometown. She is slowly settling into her new role, when Lydia (Holliday Grainger) brings in her son Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) who was bullied. The two women instantly like each other. When Lydia, whose husband left her, can’t make rent anymore, she turns to Jean for help and Jean offers her and Charlie to stay with her, quickly deepening their friendship and turning it into something else.

Tell It to the Bees is a wonderful film with one big flaw: it shies away from the happy ending for its two protagonists. But other than that, it is simply lovely.

The film poster showing Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger embracing in front of a honeycomb background.

Tell It to the Bees grabbed me at the beginning of the film and didn’t let me go until the very end. There wasn’t one minute I would cut or that I thought was irrelevant. That’s a sign for a beautifully crafted film right there. It’s also extremely touching and emotional and I was completely involved.

Which makes the fact that it then doesn’t end happily even harder to take. I gather from the Q&A after the film that the novel the film is based on – which I unfortunately haven’t read – does end happily, making the film’s choice even more disappointing. In said Q&A they argued that such an unrealistic choice – having two women in the 50s living happily ever after – works in novels but not in films. Which, honestly, is bullcrap. Plus, this is a romance film with magically realist bees: a happy ending is absolutely called for. Especially since it’s a queer romance and queer people don’t get happy endings enough anyway.

Holliday Grainger and Anna Paquin in the film.

But other than my disappointment there, the film was really fantastic. The way they develop Lydia and Jean and their relationship was done with so much sensitivity, it was a joy to watch. And it gave Grainger and Paquin great characters they portray with much love. Plus, I was very much impressed by Gregor Selkirk – he gives a really strong performance.

So, all in all it’s a great film that I really enjoyed. If only they had given us the happy ending I so much hoped for, it would have been perfect.

Anna Paquin, Holliday Grainger and Gregor Selkirk in the film.

Summarizing: Really good.

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