Secret Life Of Bees, The
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THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, based on the New York Times best selling novel and set in South Carolina in 1964, is the moving tale of Lily Owens (Fanning) a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother (Burton). To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father (Bettany), Lily flees with Rosaleen (Hudson), her caregiver and only friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters (Latifah, Okonedo and Keys), Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping, honey and the Black Madonna.
Headed by an all-star cast of women, The Secret Life of Bees is the heartwarming and well-told story of a young girl who finds love and acceptance from a trio of independent sisters. The Secret Life of Bees is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Sue Monk Kidd and centers around the plight of 14-year-old Lily (Dakota Fanning). Assuming the burden for her mother's premature death, she has a precarious relationship with her abusive father T. Ray (Paul Bettany). Lily's only friend is her caregiver Rosaleen (Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson). Set in South Carolina in 1964, when civil rights wasn't a given, Rosaleen's life is threatened by racists who'd just as soon see her dead than exercise her right to vote. Lily runs away with her to a town she believes may hold the secrets of her mother's life. There the pair meet the Boatwright sisters August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys) and May (Sophie Okonedo)--who produce the area's famous Black Madonna honey. They eventually provide Lily with the unconditional love she never felt she had and also show Rosaleen that being a black woman in the South doesn't mean she can't have a sense of worth. The Secret Life of Bees doesn't try to pass itself off as a historical documentation of race relations in the 1960s. But the fictional slice of life still resonates because of the feelings of injustice that it stirs up. Though the film is written to show the disparity between blacks and whites, there is always a strong sense of hope, thanks to the lead actresses who bring empathy and dignity to their roles. Hudson exhibits some of the same quiet grace that Regina Taylor brought to her role as the family housekeeper in the superb TV series I'll Fly Away. Latifah has the part of wise matriarch down pat, even when she's playing a sister rather than a mother. And it's clear that Fanning is making a seamless transition from kid to young adult roles. Whether she's giving an impassioned monologue or listening thoughtfully, Fanning brings nuance and intelligence to her role. --Jae-Ha Kim
Stills from The Secret Life of Bees (Click for larger image)
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They also left out too much of her relationship with Zach. But it was still good, and definitely worth watching.
I kept waiting for the singing to start (because of who was cast). There is almost no singing. Don't get thrown off like I was. ;)
I have not read the book. But, after seeing the movie I now want to read it - which says a lot about how good it was. I love Queen Latifah, and she is known for good comedy roles, but I was struck by just how strong an actress she is. This role required subtle acting and she delivered. Often films set in this time period are mired in sadness and violence. This film shows the ugly part of racism, but doesn't dwell on it. The emphasis is more heartwarming. That's not to say it won't have you in tears at certain moments, for tragic reasons and for happy. Sometimes, the film goes over-the-top in pulling at heart strings and can be a bit over sentimental. However, I can forgive that since this isn't a popcorn movie. It's the story of one girl, and the women who come to shape her life. I considered giving it five stars, but realized that even though I liked it, it just wasn't up to the standard of films like The Color Purple. As an adaptation, TCP was stunning and the scale was nearly epic in the telling.
It's almost ironic that all three of the main actresses are first and foremost known as singers, yet each delivered an excellent performance that made me believe they were the character. Jennifer Hudson should consider dropping the music and concentrating on film - I'd certainly like to see more of her. Overall, I found the movie to be very good (but not outstanding) and the acting to be truly stellar. Recommended.