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The Secret Life of Bees

Released: 2008

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 2 hr 24 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Starring: Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Paul Bettany, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo, Tristan Wilds, Hilarie Burton

In the 1960s, a South Carolina girl is haunted by the memory of her mother.

If this isn’t enough to bring a tear to your eye, then you may have a heart of stone.

Review by: TimVoon

Added: 7 years ago

THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES is based on a bestselling novel by Sue Monk Kid. Like any novel of some given success it becomes a target for some Hollywood executive in the hopes of being a lucrative endeavour. In this case, I believe that one of the list of executive producers were the Smiths (Jade and Will). It had moderate success at the US box office and was only made with a budget of 11 million.

The line up of actors is impressive which includes some of the music industry’s finest female African American artists - Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson who can both act well. Included is Dakota Fanning one of the few child actors who have made a successful transition to teenage actor and likely to adult actor as well. Queen Latifah wraps up the final major cast member and she is always a delight to watch on screen.

This movie is designed to be a major tear jerker from the horrific opening scenes of domestic violence and death. Set in the 60’s of southern USA when racial violence and tension was still prevalent in the south. It is during this period of time when a child Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) runs away from home with her house maid (Jennifer Hudson). The tone of the escape could almost be described as Huckleberry Finish with a twist of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Both are fugitives, one is escaping her violent father (Paul Bettany) and the other is escaping the law for being rude to a white man.

They find refuge with Bee Keeper/Honey Maker August Boatwright (Queen Latifah) and her sisters (Alicia Keys and Sophie Okenedo). It is here that the young girls find healing for their souls. Just as honey can be used to nourish the soul and heal wounds. The company of the Boatwright sisters act as balm for the spirits of the two escapees. It is here that the movie overflows with sisterly bonding – girls playing with each other’s hair, squirting each other with water, making cookies for each other, holding spiritual ceremonies and telling stories about a black Madonna. I was sure that I was drowning in treacle and molasses somewhere in the middle of the movie. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is after all catered for all the mothers, daughters, aunts and grandmothers out there in the world who are crying for some identity and recognition.

So the answer to the question lingering at the back of your mind is this a chick flick? YES it is. However, it is one of the better ones out there floating in the sea of Kleenex tissues and warm quilts. It is the story about the empowerment of black women in a white man’s world, about self discovery, forgiveness and redemption. If this isn’t enough to bring a tear to your eye, then you may have a heart of stone.