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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Tell It To The Bees ***

Starring: Anna Paquin, Holliday Grainger, Emun Elliott, Kate Dickie, Billy Boyd Director: Annabel Jankel Country: UK Following its (very) small-scale UK cinema release, this British period romance is available now to watch at home. Lydia (Grainger) is an outsider in her Scottish community in the 1950s. Brought from south of the border by her husband (Elliott) but then left for a younger woman, she is left to be derided as a single mother as her husband enjoys his newfound freedom. Evicted from her home, she is taken in by the kindly village doctor (Paquin) who lives on the fringes too, having been rejected by the people for being a lesbian. A friendship develops between the pair, before something much, much deeper. The titular bees refer to the bees kept by the doctor, who tells Lydia’s young son that if you tell bees your secrets they will never leave. Cut to numerous shots of the boy chatting away to the beehives for hours on end. While the bees are used as metaphors through the film, they do have narrative significance in the final act, but the constant cutaways to the daily lives of bees becomes a somewhat laboured image that isn’t half as clever or beautiful as the director thinks it is. The film manages to get into its stride in the final half hour when the stakes are raised considerably. Kate Dickie makes for a striking villain, playing Lydia’s acidic sister-in-law, with plenty of bile and loathing. At times this feels like a British Carol, but there is nowhere near as much chemistry between Grainger and Paquin, of whom the latter’s power haircut and hard accent is about as sexy as Miss Trunchbull. The final half hour could (and should) have been the entire film, but if you fancy watching this hardened pair stare ambiguously at each other across a beehive for 70 minutes first, you’ll love this film. Otherwise, skip to the good bit. OUT NOW ON DVD AND ON DEMAND, RELEASED BY VERTIGO RELEASING.

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