The Secret Life of Bees

2009-02-09 11:02
 
The Secret Life of Bees

What it's about:

Lily (Dakota Fanning) is a motherless young girl who lives with her abusive father on their peach farm. She runs away with her part-time black nanny, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson), after they are attacked by small town racists. They try to find the place where Lily’s mother sought sanctuary as a troubled young woman, guided only by a picture she left, finally ending up at the residence of bee-keeper, August Boatwright (Queen Latifah), and her quirky family. There Lily learns about her past, and the true meaning of family bonds.


What we thought of it:

Like a fairytale or a dream, The Secret Life of Bees exists in a world that isn’t quite real. It captures the lazy golden haze of a hot summer, set against a colourful 60s small town backdrop in the rural American south, complete with the religion, etiquette, and underlying vein of racism and violence. We see this world through the eyes of Lily – herself a fairytale heroine – sweetly troubled with a tragic past and tyrannical parent figure to contend with.

Dakota Fanning makes Lily a sympathetic focus for the film, staying optimistic in the face of hardship while slowly developing a sense of self. The flashbacks to her mysterious past and the strange trinkets belonging to her mother add to the sense of magic that she uses to hide from her sad reality. This device works for the story some of the time, but occasionally it lessens the impact of some truly dramatic moments that could have taken the movie up a notch from touching to devastating.

The supporting cast is excellent in their somewhat archetypal roles, with special mention going to the Forrest Gump-style "special" sister, May, played by Sophie Okonedo, with her own special mementos and strange past. Academy award winner Jennifer Hudson also shines as Lily’s nanny, giving us the most realistic view of this world from the perspective of the disenfranchised. It is her brutally honest performance that keeps the movie grounded, and sometimes it seems that she is the lone realistic human being amid a collection of archetypes.

Lily’s journey to self discovery is very watchable, and there are many entertaining, if slightly thin, characters. The downside of the story is that Lily comes across as so unshakable that there is never any doubt that she’ll end up better off in the end, one way or another, rather sapping the tension.

If you like sweet or moving films, Bees is certainly for you, as it delivers on those fronts without ever being depressing. Like the name suggests, there is a level of twee that may irritate people looking for serious drama or a focused character study, but it remains an enjoyable and enchanting little story.

 
Dakota Fanning plays a neglected teenager who finds sanctuary with a family of beekeepers in this tender coming of age fable.

CHE3R-BOY 2009/02/06 5:06 PM
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chennel24 is a great site ever nd nor educative
Ralf Kuhn 2009/02/09 11:30 AM
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gr8
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