Love has a way of finding us when we least expect it. Directed by Annabel Jankel, this tender period drama, set in small-town, postwar Scotland, depicts the emergence of a love that while rescuing two women from isolation, also places them in danger.
Abandoned by her philandering husband, Lydia (Holliday Grainger) is in an increasingly desperate situation: emotional turmoil aside, her earnings from factory work are not sufficient to pay the rent. Lydia’s son, Charlie (Gregor Selkirk), meanwhile, is getting bullied at school. Injuries from one such altercation send him to Dr. Jean Markham (Academy Award winner Anna Paquin), who has recently returned to town and found the welcome lukewarm. Charlie is curious about the bee colonies Jean maintains in her yard and the two form a bond. Bees, Jean explains, make an excellent repository for one’s secrets. When Lydia and Charlie are evicted, Jean invites them to stay in her home, an act of generosity that raises eyebrows throughout the village. Lydia soon learns why Jean is regarded with hostility — and she begins to see something in the kind doctor that takes her by surprise. Based on the novel by Fiona Shaw, Tell It To The Bees is a story of courage in the face of terrifying intolerance.
Love comes in myriad forms here: romantic love, the love between parent and child, the vocational love that a caregiver feels for their community – even when that community turns on her. Beautiful to look at, suspenseful, sexy, and deeply touching, Jankel’s film remind us that opening our hearts to the possibility of love can be reward enough.
– Synopsis written by Kerri Craddock, Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF