In ‘Tell It To The Bees,’ Anna Paquin & Holliday Grainger Play Secret Lovers In Conservative ’50s Scotland — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
Fans of lesbian-themed period dramas like Carol will surely be drawn to Anna Paquin's new film with Holliday Grainger. Based on a novel of the same name, Tell It To The Bees, out May 3 in theaters and video on demand, has the two actors playing friends-turned-secret lovers in 1950s Scotland. Directed by Annabel Jankel, this slow-burn romance features Grainger as Lydia Weekes, a young wife and mother who is discarded by her husband after he returns from the war. Lydia and her son, Charlie (Gregor Selkirk) have nowhere to turn, except to the neighboring Dr. Jean Markham (Paquin), who has just come back to the small village after the death of her father. Jean has taken over his medical practice, and that's where she first meets the mother and son, after Charlie's injured in a school yard fight. Charlie takes an interest in Jean's beehives in the garden, as well as the idea Jean presents of telling them all her secrets (thus the title of the film). Meanwhile, Lydia and Jean find themselves taking interest in each other, you can seen the romantic exclusive clip from Tell It To The Bees below.
In the clip, Lydia and Charlie are dancing together in the living room when Jean comes in and is pulled onto the makeshift dance floor with them. She resists at first but begins to nervously sway along to the jazzy female cover of Frank Sinatra's "All Of Me" oozing from the record player. Lydia starts instructing Jean to loosen up and move her hips until they take each other's hands and start moving together, Lydia showing Jean how to follow her lead and step in time. They share a brief moment of quiet closeness until they are interrupted by Charlie's shouting.
Charlie has spotted the bike Jean brought home for him, a gift she tells Lydia was simply a recovery from someone's trash. "It just needed a bit of oil," Jean says. Lydia is overcome, and she embraces Jean before stepping back to gaze into her friend's eyes.
Tell It To The Bees is very much about "the love that dare not speak its name," a well and oft-trodden plot in queer-themed cinema. But that kind of will they/won't they/can they tension seems to play well and continue to serve as an allegory for continued modern tensions about acceptance and discrimination. (The townspeople don't think highly of Jean nor Lydia, and certainly do not approve of what they do together, as homosexuality was illegal in Scotland until 1981, as reported by the BBC.)
Fiona Shaw's novel was adapted by screenwriting sisters Henrietta and Jessica Ashworth (who also lend their talents to Season 2 of Killing Eve), and Paquin and Grainger's performances were well-received at the TIFF premiere in 2018 where it played alongside the similarly sapphic Vita & Virginia. There's also an added bonus of seeing Paquin, who is bisexual, portray a queer character on screen, one of the few times she has outside of her POP series Flack.