Summer Films with a British Flavor

"Me Before You" starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. (image courtesy of Alex Bailey, Warner Bros.)

Everyone knows that Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer. If the weather has been warming up where you live as it has here in the Midwest, we’re all going to be seeking out the cool darkness of a movie theater at one time or another. Therefore I have compiled a list of British films (or at least British hybrids) for your viewing pleasure.

From family friendly giants and period dramas to tear-jerker romances and spy thrillers, the roster of films this season has a bit of something for everyone. We get to become acquainted with a real-life underdog and get re-acquainted with a pair of comical losers from the past. So get out your calendars and pencil in some of the US premiere dates for these Britishy summer flicks

Love & Friendship - If you’re looking for something to see this weekend, this adaption of a little known Jane Austen novella called Lady Susan is in theaters as we speak. Kate Beckinsale stars as the scandalous Lady Susan Vernon who has been recently widowed and is on the lookout for husband number two and a suitable match for her daughter as well.  This period comedy/drama also features Chloe Sevigny and Stephen Fry and is rated PG.


Me Before You – Based on a very popular novel by British chick-lit author Jojo Moyes (she also wrote the screenplay), this one is no doubt going to be a multi-hankie affair. Game of Thrones'  Emilia Clarke plays a kooky young woman content with her simple life who becomes a caretaker for a wealthy quadriplegic man (Sam Claflin). An unexpected relationship blossoms and well, I won’t spoil the end, but I’m told it’s sad yet life-affirming. The supporting cast includes Dr. Who’s Jenna Coleman, Downton Abbey’s  Brendan Coyle and acting luminary Charles Dance. Me Before You opens June 3 and is rated PG 13.


The BFG – This Disney fantasy film is directed by Stephen Spielberg, but it still has a load of British connections. The BFG is an adaptation of a story by the beloved children’s writer (and Welshman) Roald Dahl. It’s about Sophie (newcomer Ruby Barnhill), an orphaned English girl who befriends a friendly giant she names the BFG played by award winning British stage and screen actor Mark Rylance. The pair set out on a quest to capture the evil giants who have been invading and terrorizing the human world. This live action film embellished with considerable CGI opens July 1 and is rated PG


Our Kind of Traitor - If family fare isn’t your thing, July 1 also sees the release of a new thriller based on a 2010 novel by the master of British espionage, John le Carre. Starring Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris as an ordinary couple on holiday, they unwittingly get caught up in a dangerous scenario involving the Russian mafia and the British Secret Service. The film also features Damian Lewis as a cagey MI-6 officer and Stellan Skarsgard as a kingpin money launderer. This film has not yet been rated.


Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie – By this time you’re going to be ready for an out and out comedy. Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley reprise their TV roles as the notorious Eddie Monsoon and Patsy Stone for the big screen and, not surprisingly, they’re in trouble again. This time the girls are blamed for a major incident at a glitzy affair and must flee to the French Rivera in order to escape the media frenzy.  The film features series regulars Jane Horrocks and Julia Sawalha as well as a list of guest cameos as long as my arm. Absolutely Fabulous opens July 22 and is rated R.


Florence Foster Jenkins – Finally we come to our obligatory feel-good true story. This comedy/drama stars Meryl Streep as Florence, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice. Hugh Grant plays her supportive husband, St. Clair Bayfield, a former British Shakespearean actor who gave it up to become her manager. Though this film isn’t set in the UK, it does have a number of British cast members, is produced by BBC films and directed by Stephen Frears, respected for his work on The Queen and Philomena. Florence Foster Jenkins is not yet rated but opens August 12.


Please chime in on whether any of the movies listed above strike your fancy.  Also if there are some titles I may have missed, by all means, share them with the class. Happy Memorial weekend everyone and happy viewing!