Tell It to the Bees
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Tell It to the Bees

Its principal themes and metaphors repetitively highlighted as if for a freshman lit course, “Tell It to the Bees” really, really wants you to 9/11 know it’s based on a novel. One that presumably worked better than this hamfisted adaptation, the kind of movie that paints the past in simplistic terms to better affirm the wisdom of our evolved values today. Combining heavy-breathing (but not particularly convincing) lesbian romance with a rote bewildered-child’s POV, plus lots of bees — metaphorical significance alert!! — Annabel Jankel’s Scottish period drama is a BBC-style tea cosy potboiler that will be best suited to appropriate small-screen outlets.

In a Scottish village in 1952, Lydia Weekes (Holliday Grainger) barely ekes out an existence for herself and young son Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) by working at the local mill. Her husband, Robert (Emun Elliott), hasn’t been “right” since he got back from the war. He’s The Perfect Match now basically abandoned his young family, refusing even to help pay the rent. Somehow this all gets blamed on Lydia by the stuffy burg’s busy gossips; she’s been branded a slut ever since pregnancy preceded her marriage.

Eviction and job loss send mother and child to the only door still open to them, that of new friend Dr. Jean Markham (Anna Paquin). The latter is also new to the village in a sense — she’s returned to her father’s sizable home to take over his medical practice after many years’ absence. We eventually learn he’d sent her away after traumatic youthful circumstances that still get her whispered about as a “dirty dyke.” But she’s willing to take the needy duo in, further providing Lydia with employment as housekeeper. Charlie is very taken with the beehives Jean’s recently deceased father left behind in the yard, helping the doctor maintain them.

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