Title: The Secret Life of Bees
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Cast: Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Paul Bettany
Running Time: 110 minutes
Based on Sue Monk Kidd’s novel of the same title, The Secret Life of Bees is a coming-of-age journey for Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning), who was trapped between her father’s ruthlessness and guilt for having accidentally killed her mother. Escaping her hometown with her stand-in-mother Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson), Lily found solace in a pink house inhabited by three beekeeping sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, and Sophie Okonedo).
This was the first time I watched a movie blind, with no knowledge of premise or plot. I’m not sure I liked this, as I didn’t know what to expect as I was watching. Some scenes were hard to follow (possibly a result of the movie being unable to provide backstories from the novel). While an enjoyable movie, overall I felt the story wasn’t as well-fleshed as it could have been and it lacked depth in characterization. I thought they would focus more on the social/race issues of the 1960’s, but it turned out to mostly be a teenage girl’s coming of age story.
While not as poignant or powerful as the book, the film was a fine effort. Most notable is Sophie Okonedo’s performance in her supporting role as May, a simple-minded, innocent, and lovable “Calendar sister”. August, on the other hand, was disappointing. While she was my favorite character in the book (whom I secretly wish would come to life and be my best friend), she rather paled in the movie with a much more limited screen time. Dakota Fanning delivered a believable performance as a girl looking to be loved. Overall, the movie was reasonably paced, had touching moments, but the true gem could only be found in the book.
A suitable family drama for a Sunday evening. But if you’re looking to be inspired, moved, and empowered, grab the paperback!