Tom travels fifty years to the past after discovering a time machine. He meets May, a little orphan who needs help. Now that he knows his friends' fate and his own, he will try to reorder the events and change their history.



1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Sam Wheeler
Charlotte Wakefield ...
May (Aged 10)
Tom Collins
Bob Harris
Sniffer (as Michael McNulty)
Barbara Collins (Mom)
Alison Wheeler
School Team Captain
James Joyce ...
Big Kid
Daniel Mason ...
Short Hair
Jonathan Bradd ...
Andrew Foxcroft ...
Number 2
Ashley Rhodes ...
Small Boy


Tom travels fifty years to the past after discovering a time machine. He meets May, a little orphan who needs help. Now that he knows his friends' fate and his own, he will try to reorder the events and change their history.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Family | Fantasy


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Release Date:

23 December 2002 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Un ángel para May  »

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User Reviews

A Real Gem for Everyone
21 February 2006 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

Feature films are for children, or at least for the child in each viewer, so it always refreshing to stumble across films like "An Angel for May" and "Restless Spirits". Contrary to popular belief, films do not have to be dumbed down for children. Much of the pleasure they get comes from puzzling out complex plot developments and recognizing subtle details. Both these films have a hidden depth to their story and storytelling technique that will interest even the most sophisticated viewer-provided that they retain at least some of their childhood capacity for wonder.

"An Angel for May" is a nice adaptation of Melvin Burgess' critically acclaimed novel of the same title. The themes are the need to find a purpose or direction outside yourself and the recognition of inter-generational ties that exist because we all share the experience of having once been young. The intriguing title is actually a reference to the almost heaven- sent appearance of a 12-year old boy in the midst of WWII Yorkshire, England.

But things are a bit more complicated because 12- year old Tom (Matthew Beard) is from "present day" Yorkshire. Things are not going so great for him there. He is the self-absorbed only child of separated parents, seemingly with no friends, asthmatic, and upset that his mother plans to remarry. One day he follows a stray dog to an abandoned farm in the hills outside town and suddenly finds himself transported to that same spot in 1941.

It was a working farm back then, run by Sam Wheeler (Tom Wilkinson). Sam and his daughter Alison are taking care of 10- year old May (Charlotte Wakefield), an orphan since her whole block (terrace) was destroyed in a German bombing raid. The story is told from the point of view of the totally disoriented Tom who runs into town after his arrival and manages to get himself into a lot of trouble. The seemingly confident and resourceful May comes to his rescue.

May has picked up on Tom's dislocation and distress, sensing in him a kindred spirit who needs her help coping with the horrors of wartime Britain. This is where POV in the film becomes important. May is a huge dichotomy, once a spunky and charming girl, her wartime experiences have turned her into a traumatized victim. POV means that viewers must learn about her at the same slow pace it is revealed to Tom. The first revelation occurs as the two make their way back to the farm. When German planes jettison bombs (from an aborted raid on Sheffield) in the fields, May freezes in an exposed position until Tom pulls her to the ground. Later we learn that she has a phobia about being indoors, the result of being trapped for days in the rubble of her bombed Yorkshire home. She takes her meals outside and sleeps in a shed.

But May is protective of Tom who seems to her even more lost. The need to appear strong for him motivates May to overcome her own fears. When Tom discovers a way to return home he elects to do so, believing that Sam will give May a good home.

Back in his own time, Tom's account of his adventures is not believed and he learns that the farm was destroyed by bombs just a few days after he left. The remainder of the film centers on his efforts to return so that he can finish helping May.

The acting for the camera directing is excellent, especially with the two child actors. "An Angel for May" offers an excellent example of the power a filmmaker can discover in the framing of his shots. Director Harley Cokeliss emphasizes the face and eyes of his young actors with multiple close-ups and reaction shots, which bonds the audience to them. This technique can reveal acting deficiencies but Cokeliss gets exactly what he needs from his two inexperienced stars; and the more experienced supporting cast is universally excellent.

Wakefield's role is the most challenging. She must sell not just her character's obvious terror, but also a multi-dimensionality that makes you understand why Sam and Alison see qualities inside her that make it so important to them that she be brought back from the brink.

Especially gratifying is the avoidance of many potential missteps in the climatic scenes. There is a nice and relatively unexpected twist without any overwrought melodrama. If you've allowed yourself to take this journey with Tom, you will be rewarded at the end with one of those extraordinary emotional experiences for which we watch films.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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