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The Diva's Review of "The Secret Lives of Bees"

 

The Diva's review of
The Secret Lives of Bees(2008)

 

bees

Rated; running time of 1 hour and 51 minutes
Genre: Action
Written by: Gina Prince-Bythewood based on the Book “The Secret Lives of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd
Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Hudson, Nate Parker, Tristan Wilds and Paul Bettany
Theatrical release Date: 10/17/08


 

WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW.

The Digest

Lily (Dakota Fanning) holds a horrible truth. She killed her mother. Lily was 4 at the time and it of course it was a horric accident, but some things you have difficulty forgiving yourself for. 10 years later, she is being raised by her abusive father and Rosaleen, a negro (to use the vernacular of the times) woman who helps out. At 13, Lily serves as the woman of the house and cashier for her daddy’s peach farm. This is July 1964 and besides being “Hotter Than July”, several significant incidents take place. Firstly Lilly turns 14 and her yearly tradition is to hold on to the few personal effects she has of her mother. Secondly, the civil rights amendment is passed. These two incidents put in motion Lily’s life changing decisions. Rosaleen, gets uppity while trying to vote and is beaten within an inch of her life. Lily’s father, T-Ray believes that Lily is messing with boys, which isn’t true, yet he punishes her by making her knell bare kneed on some grits. This is the push that Lily need and she hitches a plan to get both she and Rosaleen out of there. They head to Tiburon, South Carolina only because the name is etched on one of her mother’s personal effects. She is drawn to the home of August Boatright( Queen Latifah) and her 2 sisters June (Alicia Keyes) and May (Sophie Okonedo) The 3 sisters are beekeepers and according to some, make the finest honey in all of South Carolina. Lily convinces Miss August to give both she and Rosaleen shelter in exchange for work. Lily makes up this wild story that no one believes, but they let it slide. Lily and Rosaleen fit right and thus begin their lives on the Boatright farm. But this is 1964 in the South. Lily is a white girl living amongst black folks in a racially charged time. So as happy as Lily deserves to be, the social pressures of the day just won’t let her be happy.

The Dish

Let’s get the obvious out of the way, shall we?

We’ve often spoken of stereotypes here. The obvious two that come to mind are “The Mammy” and “The Magical Negro” and both of these are unapologetically present. But there are times when the story and the acting rise above the stereotypes that are presented. We have to take several things into account. 1. The times. This movie is set in the South of the 60s. The relationship that Lily has with the black women in this movie is probably more realistic than the bold choice of flipping the stereotypical script. All that said, this is quite possibly the best movie I’ve seen this year. And if there aren’t nominations, I’ll be surprised and maybe upset. Ask me again closer to December 31st, I might not be so emphatic, but as of today October 17th, I’m making this bold statement.

I loved this movie so much, that I wish they would turn it into a 1 hour weekly drama – even if it’s on Oxygen. The dialogue is snappy. The acting, with a cast made half up of newbies, was nothing short of brilliant. The story was gut wrenching and heart-warming (how cliché, I know) and kept me glued to every word. Even when that word was The N-Word – it’s South Carolina in the 60s, after all. But what struck me the most while watching this movie was how can we as a people, as black people, not exercise our right to vote? I have images and stories of my ancestors marching and having dogs sicked (is that how you spell it?) on them. It is for their struggle and bravery that I rarely miss a vote. This message is hit home in this movie. A woman is beat with in an inch of her life because she refused to be harassed on the way to exercise her newly given right. And that woman in this movie is symbolic of every man and woman who were beat or worse just for wanting to vote.

I do have one complaint. I thought the story behind the black Madonna was a bit nutty, but I won’t judge.

The Directive

This is the kind of movie that we’ve been asking for. It is a powerful story. It is well acted and you can take your grandmother or your teenaged daughter and won’t have to worry about sex, gratuitous violence or language and it offers up an awesome opportunity to have a discussion about the civil rights movement.

3BC Ratings

greenlight

 

Can I tell you a secret? This movie is *really* good. Grab Nana and go see it!


Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2008
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