Monday, November 03, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees - Movie Review

The tag line for this movie says "Bring Your Girlfriends, Sisters, Mothers and Daughters" - so why did I go? Simple, because my wife wanted a night out. Here's my opinion on the movie (no spoilers included)

This wasn't your typical "chick-flick". I felt like it spoke to a different topic than I expected. Dakota Fanning plays a 14 year old girl raised in rural SC in 1964. Lily (Fanning's character) has some shadowy memories of her mother who died when she was only 4. Her relationship with her father is "troubled" and she clings desperately to what little information she has on her mother.

Seeking more about her mother, she escapes to a honey-farm, run by three black women where she learns about bee keeping (hence the title).

Life in rural SC in 1964 was complicated (and the movie even admits that). Queen Latifah plays a loving, motherly type, who is quick to help, slow to speak. Alicia Keys plays her quick to act, chip-on-my shoulder sister who is mad at the world. The Civil Rights Act has just been signed and not everyone in SC is happy about it.

You should know before you see the movie that it deals a lot with race relations in 1964 (did I mention in rural SC?). There is a lot of hatred, but there's also some love shown. Not racy, hot sex-filled love. There's some true love shown between the races. There's also love shown for another sister, named May (I won't spoil this part with details).

You can watch the movie and be outraged at the way people are treated. You can be happy at a little girl finding out about bees. I watched the little girl's father. I think it would be interesting to remake the movie from his point of view. What did he feel for his young wife? How did he meet her? What about their daughter? When his wife died, how did he raise the little girl? What drove him to be the way he was?

One comment in the movie (almost a spoiler) was near the end when Fanning's character saw her father. She admitted that she had seen her mother's death for the impact it had on her life, for the hole it left in her. She never thought about the hole it left in him. To me, that made the movie worthwhile.

Another part of the movie showed support. Support for people. Without giving away details, there are at least two people described or seen in the movie who just aren't able to handle life or the current hand that they've been dealt. Instead of being critical, the character played by Queen Latifah just supports them, helps them through.

If you see the movie, and I think you should, I'd ask you to look at it from that angle. Then think about the same thing in your life. What event (or sequence of events) have happened in your life that have caused you to focus on the impact, but ignore the impact on someone else's life?


Kayte said...

I listened to the book a few months back at the nudging of my boss who recommended it to me. I thought the book was nicely written and from what you have said here (without the spoilers) it sounds like they are pretty true to the book. I'm interested in seeing the movie to see the book played out.
Thanks for the Movie Review.

DJ Black Adam said...

Hmmm...I might see this movie, I was not going to, but I might give it a go...

Randy said...

DJBA, welcome to my blog. If you do go see it, I'd be very interested in your opinion.

Kayte, I'd bet the movie is pretty close to the book. I think you'll like it. Queen Latifah's character is very warm. I'd also be curious what you think of the angle that I viewed it from.

Brooke said...

OK, since I'm a mild Dana Owens fan, I'm definitely going to throw this one in the Netflix queue.

Randy said...

I wasn't sure who Dana Owens was, so I used IMDB to find out that's Queen Latifah's real name.

It may be a while before it's on Netflix queue. Also note (if you're the reading type) that the book is available as Kayte mentioned above. And if you're not the reading type, it's on audio-CD so you can have someone read it to you.

Oh, for Netflix, I saw a note this week that they were going to start a beta test for a Mac version of instant viewing. I think you said you were a mac user..

Anonymous said...

There was a movie back years ago that told the same story. It may have been a Lifetime movie. Anyone ever heard of it?

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