Summerland (2020 film)

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Summerland 2020 poster.jpg
British theatrical release poster
Directed byJessica Swale
Produced by
Written byJessica Swale
Music byVolker Bertelmann
CinematographyLaurie Rose
Edited byTania Reddin
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • 31 July 2020 (2020-07-31) (United Kingdom)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$623,541[2][3]

Summerland is a 2020 British drama film written and directed by Jessica Swale. It stars Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lucas Bond, Dixie Egerickx, Siân Phillips, Penelope Wilton and Tom Courtenay.

The film stars Arterton as a reclusive writer who is forced to bond with a young boy who has been entrusted to her care after the London Blitz. It was released in the United Kingdom on 31 July 2020 by Lionsgate.


In the mid 1970s, Alice Lamb, a reclusive writer, lives by the seaside in a small town in East Sussex where she is bullied by local children and viewed as a witch. She has lived in the village since the 1940s.

During WWII, as part of the war effort, she is entrusted with the care of a young boy, Frank, who has come from London where it is unsafe. Though Alice does not want to care for him as she fears it will interfere with her work, she reluctantly lets him stay believing that he has nowhere else to go and she will be able to be rid of him in a week.

Reluctantly bonding with Frank, she begins to remember her previous connection with Vera, a young writer whom she met and fell in love with during her university days. Despite their becoming lovers, Vera ultimately decides to leave Alice, not because their relationship is taboo but because she has a strong desire to be a mother which Alice doesn't understand.

Alice and Frank begin to bond after he takes an interest in her scholarly work and she explains Fata Morgana mirages to him. However at the end of their week together she is still willing to let him go. Alice changes her mind and decides to keep Frank on after learning that moving him to a new family will require him to move to another village and another school.

The day before Frank's birthday Alice is informed that his father has died. As Alice was similarly devastated by the loss of her own father she decides to delay telling Frank. Preparing a permanent room for Frank to stay in, Alice is shocked to discover photographs of Frank with his mother, who is shown to be Vera. At the same time Frank discovers his father has died and runs away to be with his mother in London. Alice chases after him and the two arrive in time to see his home in flames after a bombing.

On their way home Frank runs away to the sea and nearly drowns. He is rescued by Alice. Returning to Alice's home they are met by Vera, who was away from home at the time of the bombing. Vera confesses to having engineered Frank and Alice's meeting.

In the 1970s Alice's writing is interrupted by Vera, who has continued to live with her since their reunion. The two walk on the beach and are joined by an adult Frank who has come to visit his two mothers.



It was announced in April 2017 that Gemma Arterton has been cast in the playwright Jessica Swale's directorial debut, with Swale also writing the screenplay.[4]

In May 2018, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Penelope Wilton and Tom Courtenay were added to the cast.[5] Filming was underway by September, production occurring throughout East Sussex in the towns of Seaford & Brighton as well as in the county of Kent.[6][7] During October 2018 production filmed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent at various locations (Sail and Colour Loft exterior, Church Lane, Ropery exterior) to double as East London streets during the Blitz. Captain's House on Officer's Terrace features as a bombed-out house while the cellars of the Fitted Rigging House on Anchor Wharf doubled as an air raid shelter.[8] Filming had concluded by November.[9]


The film was released in the United Kingdom on 31 July 2020.[10][11][12]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 77% based on 114 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "In Summerland, the living is a little too easy to raise dramatic stakes -- but Gemma Arterton's performance adds some much-needed extra heat."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[14]


  1. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (21 December 2018). "The BFI's Ten Biggest Production Awards Of 2018: New Movies With Keira Knightley, Henry Golding & Liam Neeson".
  2. ^ "Summerland (2020)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  3. ^ "Summerland (2020)". The Numbers. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  4. ^ Grater, Tom. "Gemma Arterton to star in Jessica Swale's 'Summerland'". Screen Daily.
  5. ^ Grater, Tom. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Courtenay join Gemma Arterton in 'Summerland' (exclusive)". Screen Daily.
  6. ^ "Bond girl films new movie in Seaford".
  7. ^ "WATCH: Bond girl actor and Oscar winning star roll in to film wartime drama". The Argus.
  8. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Summerland (2020) Article".
  9. ^ Barraclough, Leo (1 November 2018). "Lionsgate Takes U.K. Rights to Gemma Arterton's 'Summerland' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  10. ^ "StackPath".
  11. ^ Grater, Tom (May 26, 2020). "'Summerland': Watch Debut Trailer For Gemma Arterton Period Drama; IFC Films Plans Theatrical Release In July".
  12. ^ Heath, Paul (July 10, 2020). "'Summerland' from writer/director Jessica Swale release date confirmed". The Hollywood News. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  13. ^ "Summerland (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Summerland Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 18 November 2020.

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