October 17th, 2008
Rated 14A Language may offend, disturbing content.
Gina Prince-Bythwood (dir.)
Dakota Fanning as Lily Owens
Queen Latifah as August Boatwright
Jennifer Hudson as Rosaleen Daise
Alicia Keys as June Boatwright
Sophie Okonedo as May Boatwright
Paul Bettany as T. Ray Owens
Hilarie Burton as Deborah Owens
Tristan Wilds as Zach Taylor
Nate Parker as Neil
Our reviews below:
The Secret Life of Bees Review By John C.
*** (out of four)
The Secret Life of Bees is a powerful and emotional story of friendship brought together by solid acting from the entire cast. The story revolves around 14 year-old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) who holds a terrible secret and still feels guilty about something that happened ten years prior when she was 4. We find out what happened in flashbacks during the movie, as we are led on a journey rounded out by well-played characters. She eventually ends up finding the Boatwright sisters who are nice enough to let Lily and her caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) stay for a while. The Boatwright sisters are in the honey business, and their bright pink house would be pretty hard to miss. Soon, the past that she left behind comes back to haunt her, and she starts to feel as if she's just making everyone else's lives worse.
Some of the lines are a little silly, and if you don’t like a deeply emotional drama, then it’s probably not for you, but if you loved the book (which I am now interested to read having seen the movie) you will probably like it.
The acting is great, and is probably one of the best things about the movie. The story is compelling, and keeps you interested in the characters lives. I would recommend people see it, even if only on DVD. But, if you are looking for something dramatic, but still uplifting to see at the theatres, then you should go see it.
The Secret Life of Bees Review By Erin V.
***1/2 (out of four)
The Secret Life of Bees is based on the book of the same title by Sue Monk Kidd. Although I didn’t read the book before seeing the movie, I am interested in reading it now. From what I know of the book, this movie seems to be close to it. I would have preferred to read the book first, like I had with City of Ember, since then I can review based on the comparisons. Unfortunately, I have only read the first six pages thus far, since that is all that you can preview on amazon.com. I will have to read the book to know for sure, but it seems like a good adaptation.
The story is about Lily Owens, (Dakota Fanning), a 14 year old girl in 1964 who has always been haunted by the memory of a tragic event when she was four. She lives with her abusive father T. Ray, (Paul Bettany), who with the help of hired hand Rosaleen, (Jennifer Hudson), takes care of her. Rosaleen wants to register to vote, since the Civil Rights Act has just been passed. She takes Lily into town with her, where they are faced with a group of bigots who attack them. Eventually these events lead up to Lily running away with Rosaleen. With no idea where to go, they stop so that Lily can buy them something to eat. At the store she notices jars of honey with a picture of a African American representation of the Madonna on them. She asks the store owner about them, and he tells her where to find August Boatwright, (Queen Latifah), the woman who runs the honey business. When Rosaleen, and Lily show up at August’s door, they meet her two sisters, May, (Sophie Okonedo), and June, (Alicia Keys). Eventually, Lily convinces them to let her and Rosaleen stay for a little while, since they have nowhere else to go.
I enjoyed this movie. It had a compelling enough story line to keep me interested, and it really felt like it was in the sixties. This movie is a drama about acceptance, of both yourself and others. It was well done, and especially with the talented cast of actors, this movie worked and is well worth seeing. _____________________________________________
The Secret Life of Bees Review By Nicole
*** (out of four)
It is a rare treat to have a drama about strong female characters, which is the case with The Secret Life of Bees. The movie starts out with a flashback to when Lily is 4. She witnesses a fight between her parents, which results in the accidental death of her mother, leaving Lily with her cruel, abusive father. The movie then flashes forward 10 years to 1964, when Lily is 14. The South Carolina civil liberties act is now coming into effect, which will allow African American people to vote. The family maid, Rosaleen, is going into town to register to vote, and she takes Lily along with her. But after Rosaleen gets beaten and arrested, and Lily’s father won’t help, Lily breaks out Rosaleen and they decide to run away to a honey farm. There they meet the Boatwright sisters, May, June, and August, three African American women who run their own honey business. Lily and Rosaleen fit right into the Boatwright home, and they practically become part of the family. Lily feels at home in her new community, and even has a tender young romance with a neighboring boy named Zach, who works on the honey farm. But discrimination against African Americans still abounds, which results in tragedy. But even through hard times, Lily, Rosaleen, and the Boatwright’s have faith, and their family is stronger then ever. This is a wonderful movie about faith, family, and not giving up. A tearjerker at times, but nonetheless a nice, feel good movie about friendship.
The Secret Life of Bees Review By Maureen
*** (out of four)
‘Secret Life of Bees’ is a compelling drama based on an adaptation of a book by the same name by Sue Monk Kidd. The story is set in 1964 Southern Carolina at a time when the civil rights act was being passed and African Americans were given the right to vote.
The movie opens with a dramatic flashback scene ten years earlier involving main character Lily Owens, (Dakota Fanning), and then moves to 1964 with Lily about to turn 14. Events unfold and Lily and her African American housekeeper Rosaleen, (Jennifer Hudson), run away to escape abuse and racial violence. They make their way towards Tiburon, South Carolina and the Boatwright Sisters’ Bee Farm and their bright pink house. There we meet the Boatwright sisters, August, June, and May. They take Lily and Rosaleen in and the relationship between the five lead female characters takes shape.
This is a mature drama with scenes of physical abuse, racial violence and suicide. It’s saving grace is the joy and laughter and many touching moments that take place between the five women at the pink house, and through their work on the bee farm. All five lead female actors give believable and strong performances. Dakota Fanning in particular gives a solid, mature performance. The story line has strong messages about tolerance, love and support, and strength through prayer, in particular devotion to the Virgin Mary. Overall, the good far outweighs the heavy subject matter in this movie making it a very watchable story.
If you can’t make it to the theatre to see this one, make sure to catch it on DVD once it’s released. It would also be worth checking out the book. I intend to read it. Keep in mind that the movie rating of 14A is appropriate. I wouldn’t show this one to children. When you do watch it, keep the tissues handy. You’ll likely need them.
The Secret Life of Bees Review By Tony
*** (out of four)
The Secret Life of Bees is set in rural South Carolina in 1964, just as the Civil Rights Bill is coming into effect. There is tension right from the opening scene, a hazy ten year flashback where the four year old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning), having been awakened by a violent quarrel between her parents, had picked up a gun and accidentally killed her mother. As a young teenager, Lily is miserable on the peach farm of her mean embittered father (Paul Bettany). Lily and her servant Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) run away after Rosaleen is beaten for defying a group of local bigots on her way to register to vote. They are taken in by the three Boatwright sisters, August, May & June (Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, & Alicia Keys), who have a successful honey business. The Boatwrights and other local women revere a black Madonna figure salvaged from a shipwreck, which gives them comfort and inspiration. Eventually, as life goes on in this welcoming environment, Lily is able to deal with her past.
I enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees, a good film with an excellent cast all around, though I occasionally found the dialect hard to understand above the background noise. The loving feminist atmosphere of the Boatwright farm contrasts sharply with the civil rights struggle going on around it. In one memorable scene, Lily goes to a movie with the hired hand Zach (Tristan Wilds), who has to go in by the “Colored” door since the “White” door is still [now illegally] being guarded by more stick-toting bigots. Sitting together inside, Lily and Zach are subject to disapproving stares, mainly from blacks. It isn’t long before Zach is beaten and dragged out by the white “guards” as the local police look the other way.
Consensus: Based on the book The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, this is a compelling and emotional drama that successfully brings you into the story, especially thanks to the well rounded cast of actors. *** (out of four)