“The Secret Lives of Bees” Bruised Heart and a Smile
Genres: Drama and Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.
Release Date: October 17th, 2008 (limited)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and some violence.
Distributors: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
JJ Rating: B+
Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) runs away from home because her father isn’t nice. She runs away with her good friend Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). They end up at a home that makes honey and stay with three sisters who happened to also be related. Racial tension is high due to blacks being able to now vote in 1964. It is the sweetness of honey that brings all together. The Secret Lives of Bees.
The Secret Lives of Bees is a fantastic character movie. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a film that champions characters. It’s always an awesome sight to see. Because great characters does lots of things such as create an air of care for what happens in the film and for the characters and their wellbeing as well as get one invested in the story itself.
I could have gone higher with the grade but there are a couple of things it doesn’t do well in, and that is the father and his anger. It’s not explained as well as it could have been. There could have been a bit more bittersweet with him and how he was acting. More of a ‘feeling sorry for him but he still deserves that’ type feeling. The other thing was a bit more humor. It was on the brink of being too melancholy.
The acting was great. Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Paul Bettany all did a great job. But it was Sophie Okonedo that just stole every scene she was in. Tis the season to think about who could be nominated for that coveted Oscar. I think Okonedo has a good chance of being nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Her role is not huge, but she’s there and every time she’s on the screen her presence is noticed in a good way. I couldn’t imagine anyone who read the book not thinking how she brought that character to life. She took the direction and the lines and converted them into a performance that just can’t be forgotten. She is one of the main reasons I enjoyed the film so much.
The Secret Lives of Bees is an emotional story during a pivotal time of the Civil Rights Movement. The hate that permeated the hearts of so many men and women is disturbing, but the fact that there were people that ignored the hate and looked at someone for who they were and not what they looked like gives power to one of the themes of this film. There are a lot of little lessons to be learned by the characters. The love that is shown, the compassion, the heart, the care, the determination to do what was right, are all things that take center stage.
The Secret Lives of Bees is a good film that those who like that time period will enjoy. It does hold a lot of sugar in it. It had the potential to be too sweet for its own good, but it didn’t release all the sugar at once. Gina Prince-Bythewood, the director, took her time in telling the story in a way that set up care and understanding of what was going on with all the characters so that what they were to do would be felt not only visually but emotionally.
I don’t know about owning it, but it was good enough to sit through another time. I would enjoy it the second time as much as the first. The Secret Lives of Bees is emotional, thought provoking and strong willed film. It’s determined to hit the heart of the moviegoer. Mines a little bruised; by-the-way. But the byproduct is a smile because through the bad that might transpire there’s always time to think of the good and just smile.
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