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I caught an exclusive screening of this film a week back and I must
say, it might be the best film featuring a mostly black cast since
"Antwone Fisher." The story centers around Lily (Dakota Fanning), a
poor, lonely little girl in the deep south, who deals with a tragic
past and a miserable, cruel father (Paul Bettany). Her life revolves
around dreams of being every bit like her deceased mother and her
relationship with her caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson).
In the midst of the civil rights movement, Rosaleen finds herself in
some trouble with the locals, inspiring Lily to flee with her to a
South Carolina town that she believes holds the secret to her mother's
past. In this town, they find refuge with the Boatwright sisters (Queen
Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo), who take them in on the
strength of a story concocted by Lily. Through their cultured world,
filled with beekeeping, a lucrative honey business, religious beliefs
and love, Lily finds the security she has longed for and finds the
answers to questions that haunted her for years.
The director (Prince-Brythewood) did a great job at making us care
about the characters, even the miserable father played excellently by
Paul Bettany. Alicia Keys shows that some R&B singers can actually
perform well in a movie, playing the snooty June Boatwright. However,
the best performances has to be between Fanning and Okonedo, who played
the gentle, simple minded, manic depressive May Boatwright. If Okonedo
reminded me less of Thandie Newton's character in "Beloved," I would've
predicted an Oscar nomination depending on this year's competition.
Maybe there's one in store for Bettany? Its all left to be seen.
The film has its flaws. It dragged for a good portion of the first
thirty minutes as we watch Lily and Rosaleen mill about, doing mundane
things in their pitiful lives. But then it really picks up when they
meet the Boatwright sisters. The characters were balancing on a thin
line between empathetic and sympathetic. You never want to be in the
latter. And the filmmakers couldn't resist being a bit schmaltzy on
occasion, making most of it play like a good after school special with
nothing beyond two dimensionality. And my biggest problem with the
Overall, its a solid film and definitely worth the time in seeing.
Tags for The Secret Life of Bees Full Movie
, Dakota Fanning
, Jennifer Hudson
, Queen Latifah
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