By Athena Yuan
“Mum is not happy, I don’t know what to do,” is the first secret Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) tells the bees.
British director Annabel Jankel’s latest film Tell It To The Bees unfolds a love story about two women through the eyes of character Lydia’s (Holliday Grainger) son Charlie. The film is adapted from Fiona Shaw’s 2009 novel of the same name and premiered at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) ‘18.
© Deadline | YouTube
The story takes place in a village in Scotland during the 1950s. Charlie lives with his mother Lydia, who was abandoned by her irresponsible husband and struggles to make a living. After Charlie becomes a friend of doctor Jean Markham (Anna Paquin), who keeps bees, Lydia soon finds out she has an irresistible desire for Jean.
Most of the time Charlie tells his secrets only to the bees, but he can't manage to keep it to himself when he finds out about his mother's new romance. Gregor Selkirk does an impressive job at playing Charlie, who has a strong bond with his mother. But Charlie is angry at Lydia at first because he doesn’t understand what he saw, and is upset that his mother didn’t tell him the truth about her romance with Jean.
However, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t accept his mother’s romantic relationship.
Director Annabel Jankel says:
“The story is about three people finding fantastic connections. A boy finds connections with bees and two women find connections with each other.”
By finding each other, Lydia and Jean help each other become brave enough to be themselves and are able to take that with them into the next stage of their lives. By witnessing his mother’s happiness, Charlie also finds himself. Just like the secret he told the bees, he realizes that he cares about his mum, and that is the only thing that matters. This makes him different from all the others who live in the town.
Tell it to the Bees Cast & Crew Q&A:
© TIFF Talks | YouTube
Academy Award winner Anna Paquin recently stated in an interview that:
“The film is set in a period when being part of the LGBT community was unacceptable. One of the things it highlights is how much stigma and lack of understanding there was. We’ve still got a long way to go in that movement, but it was exciting to see the origins of the push by people to say we’re proud and we’re not going to hide in a corner.”
Love is choosing happiness over society. The little boy Charlie makes his choice and that is the most beautiful and positive message the film leaves us with.
*Editor’s note: Tell it to the Bees was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival ‘18