The Secret Life of Bees
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood
A white girl finds solace at a honey business owned by three black women.
Whether or not you’ll enjoy The Secret Life of Bees depends “on your blood-sugar level and your tolerance for syrupy sentiment,” said Michael O’Sullivan in The Washington Post. In this soppy adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, set in rural South Carolina during the civil-rights movement, Dakota Fanning plays a 14-year-old whcivilco escapes her redneck father and finds comfort among three black sisters and their honey business. All the sentiment and sisterhood you’d expect are “laid on as thick as honey over corn bread and just as sweet.” Screenwriter and director Gina Prince-Bythewood is clearly uncomfortable with the “heavy themes” the book addressed, said Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News. By smothering the film in sap, she removes the historical context that gave the novel authenticity. This film shows none of the “messiness of real life” in the 1960s, said Rene Rodriguez in The Miami Herald. The ensemble cast, which includes Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, and Hotel Rwanda’s Sophie Okonedo, rises above the gooeyness. But Prince-Bythewood’s fictional world is “too perfect and precious” to leave viewers fully satisfied.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- This 1,600-year-old Viking war game is still awesome
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- 10 things you need to know today: August 21, 2014
- The fascinating political evolution of Paul Ryan
- It's time for the police to rethink 'shoot-to-kill'
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why isn't 'Arkansas' pronounced like 'Kansas'?
Subscribe to the Week