The Secret Life Of Bees

  • Year:2009
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Gina Prince-Bythewood
  • Cast:Paul Bettany, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah
  • Release Date:March 05, 2009
  • Distributor:20th Century Fox
  • Running time:110 minutes
  • Film Worth:$11.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

“…a decent movie…”

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Sue Monk Kidd's acclaimed 2002 novel, The Secret Life Of Bees, has been adapted for the screen by director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love And Basketball). The result is a honey-drenched, three-hanky weepie that, despite its strong storyline and emotional depth, remains a pale imitation of To Kill A Mockingbird. Also set in America's historically racist Deep South, Kidd's story is set during the turbulent mid-sixties, just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed, marking the first significant gain towards equality for oppressed blacks.

Dakota Fanning plays Lily Owens, a fourteen-year-old haunted by the memory of her late mother. Escaping her abusive father, Lily flees with her nanny, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson), to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. The pair is taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeepers, the Boatwright sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo), and Lily finds solace in their mesmerising world of bees and honey.

Curiously, Prince-Bythewood has cast three of her five main protagonists from the ranks of singers and musicians, yet perversely does not put their various talents to greater use. Nevertheless, she elicits fine performances from her cast. Queen Latifah displays her usual quiet dignity in the role of family matriarch. Sophie Okonedo is marvellous as the slightly disturbed younger sister, though Alicia Keys unfortunately gives a two-note performance of smouldering resentment and shallow emotions. Once again, Dakota Fanning demonstrates that, even as a teenager, she already has the acting skills and range equal to - if not better than - her A-list contemporaries.

Earnest and somewhat predictable, The Secret Life Of Bees is full of vivid characters. While the heartbreaking story makes for a decent movie, those who loved the book will surely be elated at seeing it on the big screen.

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