Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Drama Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Secret Life of Bees“Why wasn’t there a Miss August for me when I needed one like Lily at the same age?”, I wondered while watching “Secret Life of Bees”.  Growing up without a mother is certainly difficult enough, but to live every day with the knowledge that you’re responsible for her death?  I can’t imagine living with the intense guilt Dakota Fanning portrays as Lily.  I had my own challenges struggling with a disability in the 70s and 80s, but Lily and Rosalee (Jennifer Hudson) have to overcome racism and hatred in the 1960’s South at the risk of their lives. And that hatred is evident in Lily’s father, T.Ray Owens (Paul Bettany), the owner of a peach orchard in South Carolina.  He shows no real concern for his daughter’s welfare and she knows he doesn’t love her.  Eeven though she begs him to tell her about her mother, T.Ray has nothing good to say, except to make fun of her. During a fit of anger, T.Ray tells Lily her mother abandoned her and ran off with her nephew.Lily decides this revelation about her mother couldn’t possibly be true.  No mother would abandon her child in such away.  Nor is it possible for a child to be so completely unloved by both parents.  So, Lily packs a bag and helps Rosalee escape from the hospital, where she is being treated for injuries received while standing up to a white man who tried to intimidate her when she attempted to register to vote the same day the Civil Rights act was signed by President Johnson in 1964.  Using clues left by her mother, Lily sets off to discover the truth about her mother and ends up at “the calendar girls’ farm” where she meets August Boatwright (Queen Latifah), and her sisters, June (Alicia Keys) and May (Sophie Okenedo).

The sisters know that Lily isn’t telling them the truth, but they choose to accept her and Rosalee into their lives and their family.  As the summer progresses into autumn, Lily not only learns about beekeeping from August and her godson Zach Taylor (Tristan Wilds), she learns about herself, love and the truth about her mother

I thought the actors chosen for this movie were completely believable in their roles.  Only a young woman who lost her mother at an early age could understand the feeling of loss that Fanning shows during her outbursts when she learns her mother may have abandoned her and her father cannot accept her, yet according to various online biographies, Fanning has a large extended family who supports her and her career.  As the father, Paul Bettany was unrecognizable to me until the end of the movie.  I’ve never seen him in a role like this before, as he looked the part of a broken-down southern man filled with hate and anger.  Jennifer Hudson was under-utilized, but she did a wonderful job playing the undeducated but head-strong Rosalee.  Queen Latifah has become an inspiration and role model to women by choosing roles like August Boatwright, a strong, independent woman who is still able to nurture those around her.

Secret Life of Bees” sends the message that finding yourself and getting out of an abusive situation are possible.  Not everyone will be successful, but there is hope, as sung by Alicia Keys during the ending credits, “Doncha know the sky is blue?  Can’t you see the sun is breaking through?  Have a little faith in you.”

MRS. MAHAN SAYS: “Secret Life of Bees” is worth buying for your DVD collection.  And be sure to have at least one box of tissues on hand because some of the scenes may have you bawling your eyes out.  But parents should be careful about letting younger children watch this movie because of some adult situations and language, such as a suicide, white men beating up a young black woman, and domestic violence.

1 thought on “Secret Life of Bees (2008)”

  1. There’s a strange comma on the beginning of your second sentence, just thought you would like to know. It reads like: ”, I wondered while watching “Secret Life of Bees”.

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