The Secret Life of Bees (12A)

Film

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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

Posted: Tue Dec 2 2008

Some films are touching despite their overly direct, even crude, tugging at our emotions. And many people will no doubt be put off by TV director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s first major film as a writer-director – which only just stops short of leaping from the screen to embrace the audience in a big hug.

This adaptation of a blockbuster novel by American Sue Monk Kidd is a tribute from a white writer to black maternity and sorority wrapped up in a ‘Huckleberry Finn’-esque escape story set in a sleepy ’60s South Carolina about to be roughly awoken by the civil rights movement. It bears many faults, not least a surfeit of overt symbolism, soft clichés, cartoon-characterisation and beginner’s-manual mise-en-scène.

Furthermore, it’s weird to watch its warm, honey-hued light slowly wash out all traces of realism as the film follows its white object of compassion, traumatised, vulnerable and motherless 14-year-old Lily (Dakota Fanning, the little queen of precociousness) as she escapes the clutches of her abusive po’ farmer father (an unrecognisable Paul Bettany), alongside her black ‘maid’ (Jennifer Hudson). They flee to the safe house of a trio of beekeeping black sisters (feisty activist Alicia Keys, emotional barometer Sophie Okonedo and earth mother Queen Latifah).

But there’s a purity, clarity and honesty to this feminist heart-warmer’s melodramatic instincts that make it surprisingly moving and satisfying, while the evident generosity of its proffered hand over the racial divide is always welcome and relevant, however naively it may be stated.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Dec 5, 2008

Duration:

110 mins

Users say

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

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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LiveReviews|6
1 person listening
John

i think this film was really good i cryed so much even though i am a guy and very masculine.

John

i think this film was really good i cryed so much even though i am a guy and very masculine.

Marc

Wow Usman! If you disappeared any further up your own arse you'd be inside out!! Stop trying to appear clever - this movie was never meant to be "mature look at womens involvement in the civil rights movement". Sometimes simple, heart-warming stories are good for the soul and this is one of them. To anyone who would rather be entertained than show off their superior cultural intellect, go and see this movie, you won't be disappointed.

Marc

Wow Usman! If you disappeared any further up your own arse you'd be inside out!! Stop trying to appear clever - this movie was never meant to be "mature look at womens involvement in the civil rights movement". Sometimes simple, heart-warming stories are good for the soul and this is one of them. To anyone who would rather be entertained than show off their superior cultural intellect, go and see this movie, you won't be disappointed.

gstar

I am actually going to see this one tonight. Unlike the reviewer above, the people I know that have seen this movie just loved it!! I feel that they took in the humorous spirit it was meant to be seen in, and may be that's where the above reviewer went wrong. Also, one shouldn't forget that not all good books translate into good films, so I would not let the film stop me from buying the book. I will watch the film and follow up with my own personal review based on what I see on the screen, but based on the feedback from my brother, his girlfriend, and few mates of mine, I would give this movie a thumbs up and four stars!!

usman khawaja

any expectations of a mature look at womens involvement in civil rights movement is stung by the swarm of bees as they make tons of honey while black sisters snivel and snort when not singing hymns to a statuette of a black madonna which sits in their sittin room, all the initiations are hilariously overdone and shrouded in a patronising spiritual contempt which has become a trademark for queen latifah and not to beat her hollow we are blessed with a white girl who plays the queen bee for the glory of the greater mixed race , the only evidence of the sixties era are some pretty antique glass lamp shades which look just as out of place as the redundant men who are decorous in essence and play football when not eating breakfast . i have no intention of reading the book now as i am still sufferring with brain fever from the exasperated frustration of having to watch the worst imitation of MISSISSIPI BURNING concocted with COLOUR PURPLE , THE poor little forlorn ,unloved white girl abused by daddy and longing for her dead mother helped and loved by cultured black sisters finds religious nirvana in south carolina courtesy of queen bees and queen latifah , if this is what you wanna see be my guest and waste your life like me who was silly enough to believe some good reviews .