Movie Review for The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Click Poster to Purchase

Review #706 of 365
Movie Review of The Secret Life of Bees (2008) [PG-13] 110 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $13.75
Where Viewed: Muller Family Theatres Lakeville 21, Lakeville, MN
When Seen: 18 October 2008 @ 2:40 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
After the Credits: there is nothing
Unsung Member of the Crew: Bee Keeper – Julian I. Wooten

Soundtrack: Download now from Mark Isham - The Secret Life of Bees (Music From The Motion Picture) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood (Reflections)
Screenplay by: Gina Prince-Bythewood (Reflections) based on the novel, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Dakota Fanning (Charlotte's Web) • Queen Latifah (What Happens in Vegas) • Jennifer Hudson (Sex and the City) • Alicia Keys (The Nanny Diaries) • Sophie Okonedo (Martian Child) • Paul Bettany (Iron Man) • Hilarie Burton ("One Tree Hill") • Tristan Wilds ("90210") • Nate Parker (The Great Debaters)

review litewebsitetrailerpremiere photosspoiler2cOrNot2c?

It truly is the season of films adapted from books this fall of 2008 as Sue Monk Kidd's novel, The Secret Life of Bees joins the list including The Duchess, Body of Lies, City of Ember, The Express, Blindness, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, just to name a few, that have been released in recent weeks. This is either good or terrible news for fans of the books as film adaptations often deviate heavily from their source material. From what I can tell, as of course I haven't read the book, the film seems to stay fairly true to the book (please feel free to post comments if you disagree as other readers would surely appreciate this information). The film's story sets out as a journey with Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) and her nanny Rosaleen Daise (Jennifer Hudson) on the lamb—Lily escaping her father T. Ray (Paul Bettany) and Rosaleen fleeing the law. Lily has it all planned out. She wants to track down the source of the only image she has left of her mother whom she's been told she accidentally shot to death as a child.

… pain, humor, tragedy, and celebration weaved into this remarkable story.
It's a picture of a Black Madonna with child with a town name scratched on the back side. So, that's where they go, and Rosaleen tags along initially upset that Lily has had this planned all along. Eventually, they arrive in town both famished. At a restaurant, Lily notices the same Madonna picture on the label of a jar of honey and is directed by the owner to the Boatwright home—"it's the only house painted in the color of Pepto-bismal®" he shrugs. So off they head to find the home. Upon arrival they are greeted by the three Boatwright sisters: August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys), and May (Sophie Okonedo). August is the matriarch of the family and the honey company. June is a music teacher embroiled in a relationship with Neil (Nate Parker) and highly suspicious of the two newcomers. May, whose lost her twin sister April to an untimely tragedy, is highly emotional, confused, and lovely. June wants them to go on their way, but August offers them refuge in their honey shop. They've got no money, but August has plenty of work for them to do.

Over the next few days, there's plenty of discovery and self-discover for all involved. Read the spoiler if you care to learn more and make comparisons between the film and the novel. This is a powerful narrative when it comes to the state of race relations in the mid 1960s as the civil rights act was being put to the test, and it seems that little had actually changed much in this part of South Carolina. Lily becomes friends with a young Black boy named Zachary Taylor (Tristan Wilds), and their relationship becomes the source of much contention in the town leading to a harrowing series of circumstances. The obvious juxtapositioning of the strength and freedom of the Boatwright sisters with the racism in the town creates a powerful setting for the story. Yet, still, the main principles of the story deal with the power of women and the maternal instinct. Writer / director Gina Prince-Bythewood with her excellent cast has created a memorable film in the tradition of a southern gothic novel.

Certainly Sophie Okonedo will be receiving best supporting actress Oscar® buzz for her performance.
There's pain, humor, tragedy, and celebration weaved into this remarkable story. The casting director deserves a great deal of credit in assembling this incredible cast. Dakota Fanning has long been predicted to emerge a leading lady of the caliber of Kirsten Dunst. Bees gives a glimpse of what she's capable. Likewise, this is by far, Alcia Keys best acting performance of her career. Queen Latifah blends her usual sensitive warmth and charm into this role that seems virtually written with her in mind. Jennifer Hudson is more than up to this role, but it's the least well developed in the script. Above all, though, it was Sophie Okonedo's performance as May that leads the cast. She's absolutely stunning in this very lovely portrayal of the heart-stricken sister who'd lost her other half.

The Secret Life of Bees stands out as a wonderful little film with incredibly strong roles for and performances by the mostly female cast. It's only real weaknesses stem from a certain predictability that emerges due to fairly intense foreshadowing. On the whole, however, the film remains one of the bright stars of October 2008. Certainly Sophie Okonedo will be receiving best supporting actress Oscar® buzz for her performance.

Send This Review To a Friend

Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring The Secret Life of Bees (2008)
Cast Members
Dakota FanningQueen LatifahJennifer Hudson
Alicia KeysSophie OkonedoPaul Bettany
Hilarie BurtonTristan WildsNate Parker
Gina Prince-Bythewood
Gina Prince-Bythewood

Review-lite The Secret Life of Bees (2008) [max of 150 words]
Gina Prince-Bythewood beautifully adapts The Secret Life of Bees into a wonderfully touching and heart-felt film starring the talents of Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, and Sophie Okonedo who literally steals the show as May Boatwright. Set in the time of civil unrest in South Carolina just after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the emotionally tumultuous film covers everything from racism to the loss of ones mother and the finding of a new. Overt foreshadowing makes for a certain predictability to the otherwise exceptional film.

Send This Review To a Friend

No comments: