Most films are made with a target audience in mind. This one is no different. It was made for black/female/readers of the novel. Nothing wrong with that. Just like the intentions of the film, this fact is not kept hidden from us. Everything about the film is straightforward and transparent. And that, as well, is not necessarily a bad thing.
It is South Carolina during the 1960s and 14-year-old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning – War of the Worlds, Man on Fire) is haunted by the death of her mother that happened when she was a small child. She is lonely and doesn't get along especially well with her father (Paul Bettany – A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code), so she runs away with her black caregiver, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls, Sex and the City), who has got some trouble of her own. They are off to a remote town in the state which Lily believes holds the key to her getting to know more about her mother. The two runaways are taken in by the Boatwright sisters, August (Queen Latifah – Chicago, Mad Money), June (Alicia Keys – The Nanny Diaries, Smokin' Aces) and May (Sophie Okonedo – Aeon Flux, Hotel Rwanda). At the house they learn about race relations, beekeeping, religion, love, and honey. Here Lily will find the answer to the question that has haunted her most of her life.
What director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball) seems to focus on with this film is getting us to really see the issues and care about the characters. It is almost done to a fault. Like it is being pushed upon us. She has to give us a little room and allow our feelings to be a little more organic in their development. If we are meant to care we will on our own. She also lets things get a little schmaltzy at times, but I presume that is a prerequisite with a film like this. They do successfully avoid the whole movie of the week feel.
Due to her single-minded focus some of the earlier portions of the film drag on a bit. The introduction of the Boatwright sisters really instills a spark into the film. They are different, nuance and interesting. British actress Sophie Okonedo turns in another solid performance as the manic depressive sister May. The woman has quite a talent.
It is a solid film that will be found to be entertaining by most.
-Director's Extended Cut Featuring Never-Before-Seen Footage
-Eight Deleted Scenes
-The World Premiere
-The Women And Men Of The Secret Life Of Bees
-Adaptation: Bringing The Secret Life of Bees To The Big Screen
-Inside The Pink House With Sue Monk Kidd