How Set Decorator Philippa Hart Used English Pastoral Landscape to Dress ‘Summerland’

Jessica Swale’s World War II-era “Summerland,” debuting on demand via IFC on July 31, turns the English coastal countryside into a character in the tale of a reclusive writer played by Gemma Arterton — and the house in which much of the action takes place serves as a portal to those surroundings.Making her feature film debut, Swale, the Olivier-winning playwright who penned “Nell Gwynn,” enlisted set decorator Philippa Hart to create the ambience of the house.

It’s there that Arterton’s Alice is writing a thesis about the mythology of the area, when a boy — an evacuee from London — is left in her care.

Overcoming her initial misgivings, she establishes a friendship with the child that reawakens her emotionally and allows her to reconnect with the memories of a former love (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).The house that’s featured in the movie is film-friendly — its exteriors were used in the final scenes of 2007’s “Atonement.

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