“The Secret Life of Bees”
Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Paul Bettany, Tristan Wilds and Nate Parker
Once in a great while will a film keep an audience enthralled without the bells and whistles of computer generated sorcery or flying demons chasing an evil entity.
“The Secret Life of Bees” begins in a time when America’s rapid changes for freedom and equality are elucidated in a touching story of one girl’s search for redemption. Lily Owens, played by Dakota Fanning, is the young girl who flees from her home in search for the memory of the mother she barely new.
Lily’s black caregiver, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson), is her cohort in this journey of discovery. Rosaleen is determined to vote in her first election in 1964. Undaunted by the sneers and bigotry of the men in their southern town, Rosaleen defiantly attempts to register to vote. This determination lands her beaten and in the hospital.
No stranger to uncertainty, Lily is faced with the desperate decision to run away from her bitter father and take Rosaleen with her to save them both from further abuse. Lily knows a life remaining with her father will only serve to make her as miserable as him.
With the same poignancy and care, Sue Monk Kidd gave her characters in the novel, director Gina Prince-Bythewood gives the same to the outstanding cast of actors in this film. Queen Latifah plays the oldest wiser sister, August Boatwright. Alicia Keyes plays the defiant strong-headed middle sister, June. And Sophie Okonedo plays the innocent, tenderhearted sister May.
These women bring resilience to the characters they play as three sisters who live together and befriend Lily and Rosaleen. Queen Latifah gives an extraordinary performance as the matriarch of this band of women. Her role as a bee keeper who makes honey and teaches Lily this profession is the segue that leads Lily to the memory of her mother.
Supporting these profound female characters is a cast of equally impressive male actors. Kudos to Paul Bettany for epitomizing the life of a broken, bitter man. His authentic southern drawl does not betray his British roots. Likewise Tristan Wilds and Nate Parker offer inspiring performances, as well.
Click here to read a reflection from the author of “The Secret Life of Bees” that expresses her pride and joy in the novel she created that has transpired into film.
This is one film not to miss. No Secret!
Editor’s note: Click here to read Jan’s book review last week of Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, The Secret Life of Bees
Chic Stars: Five Chic Stars
Jan’s Movie Rating System:
5 – Top-notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored, watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasè, an enigma.
Photo: Courtesy of Wild About Movies