Tell It To The Bees Review

By Liselotte Vanophem

Moving to another town can be absolutely terrifying, nerve-wracking and intimidating. Sometimes you’re incredibly lucky and you come across the most genuine people in the most picturesque town but sometimes it can be the total opposite.

Just ask Dr. Jean Markham and Lydia Weekes. Their story was already told once in Fiona Shaw’s novel and now director Annabel Jankel (“Live from Abbey Road (TV)”, “Super Mario Bros.”) takes “Tell It To The Bees” to the big screen. The result is a sweet and gorgeous film.

“Tell It To The Bees” takes you back to the 1950s and to a small town in Britain. Meet Lydia Weekes who works at the local mill.

Despite living there for the most of her life she is looked upon with suspicion by many of the locals. Especially after her husband has left her and she has to raise her young boy Charlie on her own.

Trying to make ends meet in the best way possible, Lydia is at her wit’s end when she and Charlie are facing eviction due to unpaid rent.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, Charlie is being bullied at school. However, there’s a silver lining to that last one.

After being taken to Dr. Jean Markham her practice, little Charlie gets intrigued by the beehives in her garden. She teaches him about beekeeping and tells him that he could confide his secrets to the bees.

While the encounter with Charlie seems to make Jean incredibly happy, she’s sadly also going through some difficult times.

She just recently moved back to the town and took over her late father’s medical practice but the locals don’t see her as their doctor.

Not only because she’s a woman but also because the people remember that Jean had left town under mysterious circumstances some years ago. But that troubled time might come to an end when she meets Lydia through Charlie.

During the beginning, the women are trying to repress their feelings but when Lydia and Charlie move in with Jean because of the eviction, their love keeps on growing and they give in to each other. However, their secret might not stay hidden forever a small town like theirs…

Honestly, you might already know how this story is going to end. Whether it’s because you’ve read the original novel or whether you’ve seen more romantic drama’s like this one.

If you’re on the lookout for a more original or exciting film, then “Tell It To The Bees” won’t satisfy your appetite. Especially at the beginning as the film starts incredibly slowly and it takes a while before it picks up its pace.

If you like a relaxing, sweet and beautiful film, then we recommend that you keep sitting through that slow start as the movie will find its perfect rhythm during its second part.

The film might not be the most original one but there are some elements that make this film worth watching. First of all, it’s the very fitting editing.

The lack of sudden changes between scenes and the absence of special effects makes it feels like you’re with the leading characters in the village and that you live with them day after day. It gives this movie an even more personal touch. You’re back in the 50s in no time.

The wonderful costumes choices by Alison Mitchell and her team are heightening that feeling.

In the beginning, Grainger’s character is most of the time dressed in a simple dress during her spare time and in a plain green working outfit during her job but when Lydia moves in with Jean, not only her life changes but also her clothing.

A little bit more chic and classy but still casual. Contrasting with Lydia’s clothes are the ones from Jean: Stylish, polished and trendy (at least for the 50s) long dresses.

Last but not least there’s the peaceful sound which will take you on a relaxing trip throughout “Tell It To The Bees”.

Obviously, a film that focuses on human relationships needs to rely for 100% on the performances as they can make or break a movie like this one.

Just like the film itself, it takes some scenes for both Anna Paquin (“The Parting Glass”, “The Piano”) and Holliday Grainger (“My Cousin Rachel”, “The Finest Hours”) to get into the flow of “Tell It To The Bees”.

However, once their characters get intrigued by each other, we got intrigued by the performances.

They both put on a charming, graceful, elegant and convincing act. Paquin as the worried, reservedly but also caring and professional doctor and Grainger as the emotional, loving and hard-working mother who would do everything to make sure that her family gets the best life possible. One full of love, happiness, and joy.

Despite them being wonderful, it’s Gregor Selkirk (“To the Sea” and “Isolani”) who steals the show in this film as the young and innocent Charlie who’s caught in the middle of the storm.

Selkirk lifts the emotions to a higher level with his captivating and pure performance. No surprise that he was nominated for the “Outstanding Supporting Performance” during the “Kingston Reelout Film Festival” this year.

After being screened at different festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival and the Glasgow Film Festival, “Tell It To The Bees” will be released in the UK cinemas soon.

I’m still waiting whether the film will create a buzz or not but that doesn’t mean that you should overlook this film.

It might not stick with you forever but it’s certainly a delightful, sweet, and lovely movie about a secret romance that shouldn’t be a secret in the first place.

Originally published at on June 30, 2019.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store