Working at the local mill in 1950’s Scotland, Lydia Weekes (Holliday Grainger) tries to keep things together for the sake of her ten year old son Robert (Emun Elliott). However when the bailiffs evict them, all seems lost until new doctor Jean Markham (Anna Paquin) offers Lydia a position as house keeper. With Dr Jean fostering Robert’s interest in her beehives, misfortune would seem to have finally left their lives. However other tongues have tales to tell, all of which start to swarm around the doctor and her new arrivals.
... there is no doubting the commitment both in front and behind the lens.
Director Annabel Jankel’s ‘Tell to it the Bees’ is a period drama about a love that dares not speak its name. Set in the unforgiving and judgemental climes of 1950’s rural Scotland, this sensitively shot drama has a similar tone as Joe Wright’s ‘Atonement’. Whilst touching on different themes, at its heart it is the story of a child and the secrets of the beehive they are expected to keep.
Whilst ‘Tell It To The Bees’ misses the lyricism of bigger budgeted productions, there is no doubting the commitment both in front and behind the lens. Holliday Grainger and Anna Paquin both deliver, as does Emun Elliott’s affecting turn as Lydia’s son Robert. With beautifully shot close-ups of the hives as an allegorical mirror to the lives outside, ‘Tell It To The Bees’ aims to be a quality production. So, whilst some of the incidental characters may come across as merely cyphers for the main plot, Kate Dickie for one, adds to her already glowing resumé of stern and caustic ladies.
In a small Scottish town where pride and appearance take precedence over propriety, the spectre of toxic masculinity is only ever a slammed fist away. Infecting all around them, ‘Tell It To The Bees’ pulls very few punches in this regard and whilst its switch to magic realism in its closing moments might be a jar for some, it is still a film with its heart very much in the right place.0