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Tell It to the Bees

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United Kingdom, Sweden · 2019
1h 46m
Director Annabel Jankel
Starring Anna Paquin, Holliday Grainger, Emun Elliott, Steven Robertson
Genre Drama, Romance

In a small town in Scotland in the 1950s, Lydia, a mother shunned by her neighbors and abandoned by her husband, finds hope in a relationship with a newly arrived female doctor. Lydia faces violence and prejudice as she pursues love in this drama based on the book of the same name.

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What are critics saying?


Screen Daily by Allan Hunter

Tell It To The Bees can seem a little too respectable for its own good but there are moments of pain and heartbreak that rise to the surface, especially in a tense climax that puts the fates of several characters in the balance.


The Playlist by Christopher Schobert

It falls flat. There are a variety of reasons — one-note characters, an overly-familiar story arc, a laughable sequence of bee heroism (!). (Alternate title idea: “Secrets and Hives.”) Still, there is the work of Grainger and Paquin.... They make Tell It to the Bees watchable, and are worthy of high praise.


Variety by Dennis Harvey

Within the film’s modest scale, the period trappings feel apt, and its aesthetic packaging is attractive enough. But particularly for a movie largely about repression, “Bees” is so full of forced emotions that it teeters on the brink of cliche-riddled camp.


Los Angeles Times by Geoff Berkshire

Paquin, in one of her strongest performances since The Piano, and especially Grainger (best known for a substantial résumé of British television) shoulder the film’s dramatic burdens with grace and ease. They’re a pleasure to watch. But the unassumingly square and overly familiar film simply isn’t the buzzworthy vehicle their work deserves.


ReelViews by James Berardinelli

Unfortunately, while director AJ Jankel (Super Mario Bros – yes, she’s the one responsible for that) captures aspects of the hostility toward lesbian relationships in that earlier era, she does it without nuance. Her framing of characters is black-and-white and the far-too-pat ending offers an unearned resolution.

50 by Monica Castillo

Then there’s a third act that’s so wildly out of left field, it shifts the tone completely. It’s an almost comical departure, but it’s certainly a disappointing one.


Movie Nation by Roger Moore

But the handsomely-mounted period production has its rewards and the finale manages a nice messiness that undoes some of what’s trite and far-fetched that’s come before it.


The A.V. Club by Roxana Hadadi

What Tell It To The Bees accomplishes for queer romance it abandons with an ending that is committed to unnecessary melancholy.

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