Thursday, February 5, 2009

Movie Review: The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees (2008)
Starring: Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, Dakota Fanning
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Rating: PG-13

I had read the book for this previously and the movie follows it pretty closely.

Set in South Carolina during the 60s
Dakota Fanning plays Lily, a fourteen year-old girl who must live with the fact that she killed her mother at the age of four. Her relationship with her father, T. Ray, played by Paul Bettany is never a great one. Her only true friend is a black woman who works for her father, Rosaleen, played by Jennifer Hudson. When Rosaleen goes to town one day to register to vote, she is beaten by local white men. She is carried to a hospital where Lily sneaks her out. With nowhere else to go, Lily has a few mementos to help her find out about her mother's life and one of them is a label from Black Madonna Honey. She and Rosaleen travel to meet the makers of the honey, three black women with months for names. Queen Latifah plays August, the main honey maker, Alicia Keys is June, and Sophie Okonedo is May, a not-quite right and emotional young woman who must visit a "Wailing Wall" in her back yard when she gets too upset to do anything else.
Lily makes up a story about them traveling to her aunt and needing a place to stay and a job to get the traveling money. August takes them in and Lily becomes her apprentice beekeeper while Rosaleen helps May in the kitchen. They soon become accustomed to their new lives. Lily makes friends with Zach, a young black male who also works for August. Eventually, their new happy lives are disrupted by a tragedy, which is followed by the loss of one of the sisters. Afterwards, Lily feels she must hone up to her true reason for searching out the owners of Black Madonna Honey and she learns more about her mother. Meanwhile, her father has been searching for her and finally figures out where she is. He confronts her at the house and demands that she come home with him. The remaining sisters ask him to allow her to stay and he ends up storming out, leaving her in their care, at the only place she has ever felt at home.

This is an endearing story that is heartwarming and at the same time makes you take a second look at the past and how far we've come as a nation.

I highly recommend this movie as well as the book to anyone wanting a good true-to-life drama about family, friends and the power of hope.

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