Monday, December 8, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

There are many, many books that have become movies, and some books that have become plays, and even some movies that have becomes plays and plays become movies, but The Secret Life of Bees is the only story I know that I first read the book, saw it performed as a one-woman play, and now have seen the movie. I'm also happy to say that the story holds up to the various media. Lily Owes (Dakota Fanning) lost her mother as a child and now lives with her father, T-Ray (Paul Bettany in a scary yet sympathetic role) on a peach farm in South Carolina during the 1960s. President Johnson has just signed the Civil Rights act, and Lily's housekeeper, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson, proving she deserved her Supporting Actress Oscar) is going to register to vote. She runs into racists idiots who won't let her register and beat her up. This is the impetus Lily needs to run away, helping Rosaleen escape the hospital and heading to Tiburon, SC. Lily has just a few items from her mother, an image of a black virgin Mary, white kid gloves, and a photo. It's the Mary that sends her to Tiberon where she finds the Mary as the label for a brand of honey. This brings her to the pepto-bismol pink home of the Boatwrights, August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys) and May (Sophie Okonedo). Lily lies about why they are in Tiberon, but the Boatwrights take them in and teach Lily about beekeeping and Rosaleen helps May in the kitchen. There are quirks about each of the women, and the story resolves itself with the sad conflicts you might expect in a story about black women in South Carolina in the '60s. Overall, I really liked the movie, but found that without the tidbits about bees and beekeeping the book weaves through, the story is mostly sad. 3 stars/Lambs. In case you've missed the trailers, books, or plays, here's the trailer to remind you.

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