Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Movie Review: Summerland

Look, if you haven’t watched “Summerland,” just stop reading. Because everything I have to say about “Summerland,” legit everything, has to do with its ending. OK, so are we clear? This thing is filled with spoilers. Go it? Great. Here we go.

So, yeah, how about that happy ending? I started watching “Summerland” with very few expectations other than it had something vaguely to do with a past lesbian love. And as I watched “Summerland” those expectations remained largely intact. And then, it ended entirely happily and I was genuinely a little shocked.

No lesbian died in the making of this movie. No lesbian was physically hurt in the making of this movie. No lesbians were left with ambiguously open-ended endings after the making of this movie. It just ended with the lesbian couple living happily ever after together. I know. What?

Set in World War II-era England, “Summerland” follows a cranky writer named Alice (played by Gemma Arterton who has played gay before in “Vita & Virginia”) who lives by the seaside in Kent and is saddled with a boy from London taking refuge from the blitz bombings. Alice lives alone, but flashbacks show us it wasn’t always this way and she once had one of those beautiful, always lit-during-golden-hour relationships years earlier with another woman named Vera (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw who has played gay before in “San Junipero”).

But then Vera left Alice because she wanted kids. Now Alice isn’t doing that great with the unwelcome kid, named Frank, in her house. But, as often happens in movies, they start to warm toward each other. And then perhaps the biggest unspoken lesbian romance wish-fulfillment twist in all of moviedom happens when Frank’s father dies in the war and then Alice realizes Frank’s mom is…wait for it…VERA.

Yes, we are talking long-lost lesbian loves who reunite after the inconvenient husband has conveniently passed away and they…wait for it again, but I promise it’ll be worth it.. get back together and live happily ever after together. I mean, they virtually walk off into the sunset together, but this is still Britain so it was a little too cloudy for all that.

Look, it’s not a perfect movie. They could have made the flashbacks a little meatier, and a little less bathed in golden nostalgia. Things move a tad slowly, and there’s an awful lot about the boy. But any movie that had Gemma and Gugu making eyes at each other is over a parasol cannot be all bad. And, indeed, “Summerland” is perfectly pleasant. And, again, it’s genuinely something that the twist in this lesbian period piece is that the lesbians get to live happily ever after together after all.


Hannah said...

I had the same reaction! I was so surprised by the happily lesbian ever after ending! I also loved seaside spinster aesthetic of Gemma's character. Beautiful movie!

Carmen San Diego said...

No open endings? I’m in! Gonna watch this ASAP
Thank you for the valuable info DS

Anonymous said...

I watched this film last summer and absolutely loved it. I had no idea it had a happy lesbian ending and mostly went for grumpy Gemma Arterton!