Review: The Secret Life of Bees

2009-03-01 00:00

With a cast including Oscar-winning Jennifer Hudson, Oscar-nominee Queen Latifa, and acclaimed child-star Dakota Fanning, need I say more?

Adapted from the 2002 bestselling novel by Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens (Fanning), a young girl who’s spent all of life on her abusive father’s peach farm. Until this point in her life, she’d been living with the guilt of being responsible for her mother’s death.

After her hired stand-in mother Rosaleen (Hudson) gets into a racist spat with some white locals on Lily’s 14th birthday, the two run away to a nearby town where the young girl’s mother once lived.

Once there, she and Rosaleen are taken in by the Boatwright sisters, a family of independent black honey farmers, and so begins Lily’s journey of self-discovery, womanhood and closure surrounding her mother’s death.

Okay, I’ll admit, the storyline is not that original. Why should you fork out 20 bucks to see this one as opposed to watching My Girl “free on E” in the comfort of your own home?

Well, this film is set in South Carolina in 1964 — the year the Civil Rights Act was passed, making white and black Americans equal. Do you remember South Africa just after 1994? Do you remember the racial tension? Do you remember the drama?

Let’s face it, racism is the perfect ingredient for drama and emotional response (since there isn’t a single person who hasn’t experienced it). In film, it stirs up dramatic confrontations, tear-jerking breakdowns, and even heart-warming reconciliations.

The Secret Life of Bees has all of the above and more.

The script was nicely written — with a bit of comic relief every now and then (I must admit, though, it gets a bit sloppy toward the end).

But the script is not the main attraction here … Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifa and Dakota Fanning (hello?). All of these actors not only give great performances, but have upped their game for this one. I’ve watched most of their films and this is my favourite by far.

Grammy-winner Alicia Keys also holds her own as the sassy sista, June.

The best performance, however, is from Hotel Rwanda actress Sophie Okonedo, who plays May, the mentally-challenged sister. I definitely see an Oscar going her way in future, and I definitely recommend that you see this movie.

****

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