The Butler (12A)

Film

Drama

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Nov 12 2013

To mark the 2008 Obama election, the Washington Post wrote about Eugene Allen, a black butler who had spent 34 years serving at the White House. Such a meeting of the generations provided such a perfect symbol of a changing America, it’s no surprise it inspired this fictionalised version. Yet somehow this broadly positive central idea works against the more complex themes underpinning ‘Precious’ director Lee Daniels’s potted tale.

We grasp the big idea from the off as elderly Forest Whitaker waits in the White House lobby for you-know-who to arrive. So when a flashback returns us to the unforgiving 1920s Deep South, the future pattern of the movie, playing Whitaker’s symbolic black experience against the historical milestones of successive presidencies (represented by high-profile cameos from Robin Williams, John Cusack, Alan Rickman and others), already seems set in stone.

As such, ‘The Butler’ proves a decent, significant, but slightly stodgy affair. Its dignified restraint stifles its anger. The devil is in the detail though, since Whitaker’s admirably controlled performance shows a man so worn down by presenting a docile front for his employers that he’s unable to grasp the worth of his college-educated son’s civil rights radicalism. There’s even appreciation for the fortitude of the housewife caught between the two men (Oprah Winfrey, alternately sassy and very affecting), typifying the film’s generosity of spirit towards the spectrum of black America.

The result isn’t as powerful as it should be. But it’s still cheering to see a film whose moral journey has little to do with the usual Hollywood chestnut of white middle-class consciousness-raising.

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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Nov 15, 2013

Duration:

132 mins

Cinemas showing The Butler

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Guildhall Arts Centre

St Peter's Hill, Grantham, NG31 6PZ Show map/details

  • Address:

    Guildhall Arts Centre St Peter's Hill
    Grantham
    NG31 6PZ

Map
  • Thu Sep 11:

    • 14:00
    • 19:30

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5
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critique

I echo Juan Carlos, below in saying the TO review is pretty much spot-on. A little more cinematic oomph, a little less "soap" would have improved this affecting drama from good to excellent. Three and a half stars.

Juan Carlos

The review has the film pretty much right. It is a good film that should have been much better. At times it descends to cliche and just can't resist taking a couple of below the belt digs at Ronald Reagan which perhaps Daniels felt he couldn't resist when perhaps he should have. The film would have perhaps been much better for not doing it. These digs would appear to be unworthy particularly as the film shows that it was Reagan that finally gave the coloured staff equal pay. Its a good film not the game changer some would have you believe. As Chuck D would say "Don't believe the hype!". A good 3 star film, maybe 7 out of 10.

Maysoon

Never a dull moment and take a hankie along. Dignified man trying to do his job as father and servant in most unforgiving environment. Go see it.

Maysoon

Never a dull moment and take a hankie along. Dignified man trying to do his job as father and servant in most unforgiving environment. Go see it.