Cert 12A Stars 4
Gemma Arterton continues to forge her a unique place in British cinema as she illuminates this expertly chosen, thought provoking and wonderfully crafted Second World War drama, which uses the relationship between her coastal recluse and a young London evacuee to become an uplifting meditation on love, longing and loss.
On her big screen directorial debut playwright Jessica Swale handles the changes of tone with absolute assurance, mixing aching melancholy with the giddy first flush of romance and heart-racing melodrama to powerful effect.
And Swale’s theatre experience inspires marvellous performances from a first rate cast, not just a wonderfully spiky Arterton who shows terrific range, but Lucas Bond as her unlooked for lodger, Dixie Egerickx as his precocious classmate, the dignified Tom Courtenay as their kindly schoolmaster, and a conflicted Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Aterton’s romantic partner.
With this mixed-race same-sex romance swirling around doomed pilots and visions of the afterlife, Summerland is a very 21st century response to 1946 classic A Matter of Life and Death, though it’s not so modern it can’t celebrate the simple joys of eating chips on the beach.