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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one pulls at your heart strings
This is the best movie I have seen in a long time. I think I had tears in my eyes through 75% of the movie. This is Dakota Fanning's best performance. Jennifer Hudson was spectacular. Queen Latifah delivered like never before. Everyone was amazing in this film. Don't waste your time renting this one because it's one to own. You really connect with the characters...
Published on January 2, 2009 by Leslie Bethany

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inconsistent
(1.) Historical accuracy - as someone who documented & participated in northern civil rights in the late '60s & '70s and travelled through the south twice to do the same thing I am disappointed that practically all movies and books depicting that period show 99% of the whites in the south as supporting the beating up of blacks (the exception is always one white lawyer)...
Published on February 14, 2009 by G. Teslovich


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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one pulls at your heart strings, January 2, 2009
This review is from: The Secret Life of Bees (DVD)
This is the best movie I have seen in a long time. I think I had tears in my eyes through 75% of the movie. This is Dakota Fanning's best performance. Jennifer Hudson was spectacular. Queen Latifah delivered like never before. Everyone was amazing in this film. Don't waste your time renting this one because it's one to own. You really connect with the characters and the issues at hand. This is a must see movie.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving film about self worth and love., February 10, 2009
This review is from: The Secret Life of Bees (DVD)
I bought and watched this film based on the strong recommendation of a friend. My wife and I both loved this movie. It is a slippery slope sometimes in telling a tale about the civil rights era, to not seem condescending or self righteous and still show the social evil of what some Americans held as justified truths and actions.

"The Secret Life of Bees" is one of those rare stories that shows the lines of prejudice go both ways and also the lines of goodness and kindness. "The Secret Life of Bees" is not so much a story about black and white people in the south in the `60s, as it is a story about love and redemption set with a backdrop of changing social mores of the civil rights movement.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the performances in this film by all the major players are for all measurable purposes flawless. Alicia Keyes was a surprise (it shouldn't have been) as the "Angry Black Intellectual Woman" and Latifa was wonderful as the matriarchal sister who brings wisdom and peace to several tortured souls. Dakota Fanning, shows that changing from a child to a teen doesn't take away from the fact that she is one of the hardest working and most effective actresses in the business.

If you are in the mood for an excellent drama "The Secret Life of Bees" is a treasure.

The only watch out is there is some fairly violent hate crimes against a woman (Jennifer Hudson), as well as other violent acts which may make this inappropriate for pre-teens as well as some rough laguage.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Secret Life of Bees..a triumph, February 17, 2009
The Secret Life of Bees staring Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Sophie Okenedo and Alecia Keys..set in the 1960's in the south is about a young teenage girl (who happens to be white) who, in search of understanding and peace from an abusive father leaves her home with her nanny (played by Jennifer Hudson) to a town in Virginia where a local honey producer and entrepreneur(played by Queen Latifah)takes them in. I dont want to give away too much of the story,so I wont get into too many specifics. I loved this film! As an African American woman, its never easy to see remnants of a time that I often wished weren't true, but even in the midst of thecliche like moments of that "racialy charged situation" that always occurs in period pieces about the segregated south, arose another more poignant tale of courage,determination,forgiveness, acceptance and most importantly love!

Dakota Fanning still continues to intrigue me. She has this been-here-beforeness that is, to me, fascinating and I love watching her grow into a woman. Queen Latifah, who I have actually seen grown into a woman (from afar of course) has this calming spirit throughout the film that made this viewer feel at home whenever she spoke. Alecia Keys character was harder to warm up to but just as equally touched by her gradual (if inevitable) transformations. And the character of June played by Soke Okenedo was done brilliantly.

Money well spent! Thanks Amazon!
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best movie of 2008!!, January 2, 2009
This review is from: The Secret Life of Bees (DVD)
I thought this was the best movie of 2008! It was SO GOOD! Granted I had some movies that I went to and watched over and over again, this one I only watched once but once I watched it I knew it would be a timeless classic. Don't rent this movie! Just buy it! It's SO GOOD!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 outstanding performances in this warm-hearted, life-affirming film., October 19, 2008
By 
RMurray847 (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I read THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd about two years ago. I enjoyed the book very much because it nicely evoked a sense of place (the rural south, with its humidity, ramshackle houses, lush flora and fauna) and it also created very vivid characters. It also suffered from a couple of unlikely coincidences and sometimes a bit too much sentimentality. It didn't trust the power it had built up to successfully tug at our heartstrings and evoke tears without just a little bit of extra obvious manipulation. I found it brisk, involving reading but a little short of classic status.

The film is almost exactly the same. While I don't remember tiny details of the book, and thus no doubt there are some "key" scenes missing, the film is very faithful to the plot of the book and its characters. It captures both the strengths and weaknesses of the book quite well. Frankly, if you like (or love) the book, then you should be quite content with how it has been translated. If you are unfamiliar with the book, you should have some of the same reactions to the film as I described about the book above.

The story is set in 1964. 14-year-old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) is a mature beyond her years girl in South Carolina. She carries a heavy burden. Ten years previously, while watching a fight between her mother and her abusive father, she accidentally fired a gun. The bullet killed her mother. Her mother, who was in the process of leaving her father and also, she fears, leaving her. This has left a hole in Lily, because she's torn between her fantasies of a loving mother that she has killed and a her fears that her mother was about to abandon her to her awful father. Lily's housekeeper Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) is somewhat friendly with the smart, inquisitive Lily (a girl who loves to write in her journal) and one day the two are walking somewhat companionably to town. Lily needs to stop by the store...Rosaleen is on her way to register to vote now that President Johnson has signed the Civil Rights Act. The redneck bigots in town figure out Rosaleen's intentions, and a confrontation ensures in which Rosaleen insults the men and they, in turn, attack her.

Lily seizes on the opportunity to rescue Rosaleen from the hospital, where she is recovering prior to her imprisonment. Lily takes Rosaleen to the town of Tiburon, SC...the only clue she has to where her mother might have come from. With little money and only a vague notion of her approach, the two runaways are taken in by a family of sisters who run a honey harvesting operation. It is amongst these women that Lily (and Rosaleen) learn some important lessons about life, learn to feel a sense of belonging, and ultimately, perhaps for Lily, learn about the fate of loved ones.

There are three Boatwright sisters: August (Queen Latifah) the eldest, who runs the business and dispenses worldly advice and tough love in that way only Queen Latifah can. There is June (Alicia Keys) the stern music-teacher who has put up a pretty heavy emotional armor. She's clearly enamored of her boyfriend Neil, a fellow teacher, but refuses to fully release herself to him. Finally, there is May (Sophie Okonedo), who is the most warm-hearted, kind person you'd care to meet, but she is also tormented by inner demons. I don't want to give away too much about May, because discovering the truth behind her afflictions is one of the joys of the story.

Suffice it to say that the film takes these characters and first shows how the civil rights movement affects them. Lily learns firsthand some harsh lessons about hatred. But it is far, far more interested in showing us how these women (and the men who buzz around them) grow and change...but also how strength takes on many different aspects, and how these different forms of strength can help others with their weaknesses and fears.

It's a brightly lit movie. It practically beams...much as Queen Latifah spends so much time beaming. It's full of metaphors (many dealing with bees, of course)...and sometimes it is just a bit heavy-handed. August Boatwright is sometimes just a little TOO wise and understanding. Lily is sometimes just a smidge to precocious. June is sometimes a little TOO hardened. And unfortunately, the ending is just a little too pat and convenient. In "real life," this story would have played out with more mess and more collateral damage.

Yet it's still so nice to see a movie that wants to embrace you with good feelings...realism be damned. Come enjoy these lively women, it says. Get swept up in their characters. That's what the book wanted to do, and that's what the film does.

This is accomplished mostly by virtue of some really, really nice performances. Queen Latifah, in many ways, fares the worst, because this is a character that was almost written to be played by her. We see her doing very little that is new for her...but she's so good at this character that we draw some comfort from the familiarity. She does have one devastating scene involving another of her sisters that shows she is ready to take another step as an actress. Alicia Keys looks lovely and gives a focused performance...more than anyone, her character seems to belong squarely in 1964...from her clothes to her attitude. Jennifer Hudson is fine as Rosaleen...it's no longer a curiosity that this former American Idol can act...she can and should. Her character somewhat falls by the wayside in the 2nd half of the film...but in our glimpses of her, we still see how she has grown and changed. Sophie Okonedo, who was so good in HOTEL RWANDA, is fabulous here. When she is on screen, she just bursts with life and energy and you simply can't take your eyes off of her. Whether her eyes are sparkling with loving mischief, or glazing over in dismay...she fully invests herself in the work.

Finally, I'm happy to say that Dakota Fanning is still reliably good. I would say she's going to make the transition from child star to teen star with little effort. She's the real deal as an actress.

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES may not win major awards or become a much-beloved classic...but it IS an outstandingly evocative film that is so well acted. I'd recommend it for anyone willing to spend time with some really interesting women...AND I'd recommend it to audiences aged 13 and above. I think that young teen girls, in particular, might take a special liking to the film.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars heatwarming, January 17, 2009
By 
Daren N. Heaton (Laie, HI United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Secret Life of Bees (DVD)
Excellent movie. Almost perfect version of the book. I was expecting a PG though but still it's a great movie. For me one of the best movies of 2008.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet in the Mouth, October 18, 2008
By 
Xavier Thelakkatt (Dayton, MN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Two of us went to this movie last night. It was the first show on the release day and there were only six others in the whole movie theater. However, that fact was not indicative of the movie's worth.

It was a very moving, yet joyful movie, set in the backdrop of racial tensions and violence of 1964 in South Carolina. Fourteen year old Lily (Dakota Fanning) flees her abusive father along with her caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) who is battered for claiming her rights as a colored woman. Lily is also fleeing from her fussy and haunting memories of accidentally shooting her mother to death, during an abusive tussle between the couple. Guided by a honey bottle label they reach the Boatwright sisters. August (Queen Latifah) the oldest among the Boatwrights welcomes the fugitives. They put them to work in the mesmerizing world of bee keeping. Lily grows in loving admiration for the maternal figure of August and learns more about her own mother and her deep love for Lily.

Dakota Fanning does a superb job of portraying the abused, at the same time, assertive Lily of fourteen years. All the other cast members do justice to their roles, though Queen Latifah, as a caring maternal figure to Lily and queen of the Boatwright beehive, is less convincing. Overall, the movie tastes sweet in the mouth, but leaves a lump in the throat. It's sure to appeal more to female audiences. Apparently that's what the ad is calling for: "Bring your girlfriends, sisters, mothers and daughters."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good viewing even for those who haven't read the book, December 20, 2008
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is one of my wife's favorite books. She was predisposed to love the movie. It did not disappoint her. So, when friends ask us for movie recommendations and 'Bees' comes up, she essentially recuses herself and defers me to give a more unbiased opinion.

My opinion is that the movie succeeds on its own. I've not read the book. You don't have to read it to enjoy and appreciate it. Queen Latifah has evolved into a regal screen presence. My wife says she nailed the essence of June Boatwright. Dakota Fanning is on track to be one of the few child actors to make a successful transition to adult roles. She's extraordinarily talented. Critics continue to slight Jennifer Hudson (she got savaged in Sex and the City - The Movie (Exclusive Extended Cut)). I honestly don't see what the problem is. She seems a perfectly capable and likable actress to me. The gorgeous Alicia Keys is also good in a tough role.

A signal to me that this was going to be a quality outing: the presence and oversight of director (and co-screenwriter along with Ms. Monk Kidd) Gina Prince-Bythewood. She was the creative force behind the under-appreciated 2000 standout release Love and Basketball (New Line Platinum Series). If you've not seen it already, that's a movie well worth your time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong, Intelligent, Beautiful, Women, February 3, 2009
This review is from: The Secret Life of Bees (DVD)
What a wonderful film. The women in this film are amazing, strong, intelligent, loving, gorgeous. The men in this film, aside from two men, are exactly the opposite. And there is the conflict. It's a story told more or less in flashback from Lilly's (Dakota Fanning) perspective. There are two versions available on the DVD, the theatrical and the editor's version. For this review I chose the extended editor's version - nearly 2 hours.

Technically, a very fine film. Dialog was recorded perfectly. This film is very much about dialog, so it had to be crystal clear and the director delivered. Use of surround sound was held to a minimum, there isn't the enveloping sound we've come to expect. Each shot was spot on in focus and perfectly exposed. There was only one moment where the camera moved in a random not deliberate fashion - a scene of Lilly laying on the ground viewed from a camera in a tree. Otherwise, the camera work was excellent.

Pacing was a tiny bit slow, especially at the difficult half way point. The film didn't develop a lot of rise and fall rythmn in the editing, it kept a pretty consistent speed throughout. This could be an anomoly of the director's cut.

This is one of the better transfers to DVD, no compression artifacts visible. The print was a spotless one used for the transfer. There are several special features, deleted scenes, making of, converting the book to film, and a few others. Sorry, after watching the director's cut, I just did not wish to ruin the taste of this film with the bonus features.

The music soundtrack is just spectacular. This is music worth listening to outside of the film. Alicia Keys, need I say more?

These really are incredible women. They are the story in essence, so the fact that the men are so awful really doesn't make this an anti-male film. On the contrary.

Fine performances by all the actresses. Alicia Keys was a surprise for me, I had no idea she was in this film before watching. Dakota Fanning is making that beautiful turn from being a bratty child star to a real live serious actress. This film shows that Dakota may actually have a career after all. Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson, need you say more?

Sorry, I can't comment on the conversion from the novel, I haven't read it. As a film without the book, this is a very good film, well worth watching.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inconsistent, February 14, 2009
This review is from: The Secret Life of Bees (DVD)
(1.) Historical accuracy - as someone who documented & participated in northern civil rights in the late '60s & '70s and travelled through the south twice to do the same thing I am disappointed that practically all movies and books depicting that period show 99% of the whites in the south as supporting the beating up of blacks (the exception is always one white lawyer). Sorry to disappoint but the number, although significant & demonstrative, was quite low. And the stereotype that nearly all older black females were matronly to the point of godliness has developed iconic stature.
(2.) The movie is meant to inspire by showing how courage & belief leads one to rise above horrific conditions. That it does with fine performances however the movie moves along with an uneven pace - at times too fast, leaving holes in the story & at times so slow that the grasp of the story leaves you.
(3.) The book is probably on most school's teen reading list and I recommend that audience to read it first before seeing the movie.
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The Secret Life of Bees
The Secret Life of Bees by Gina Prince-Bythewood (DVD - 2009)
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