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4.5 out of 5 stars295
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 26 January 2009
Dakota Fanning used to scare me. She and sister Elle reminded me of the Children of the Corn. But it has to be said she was a phenomenally talented child, and she is developing into a wonderful actress of an altogether grown uppier breed. The Secret Life of Bees sees her playing Lily Owens, a 14 year old girl living in South Carolina in the 1960s.

The first line of the film: "I killed my mother when I was 4 years old... that's what I knew about myself." That's the sadness that follows her throughout the film, and gradually she unravels the truth of what led to that tragedy. Her discovering what happened is the spine of the story, albeit a somewhat peripheral one.

Her abusive father is played by British actor Paul Bettany (in what is perhaps the performance of his career to date) and her nanny, Rosaleen, is played by Jennifer Hudson. When Rosaleen stands up to some racists in town and is badly beaten, she and Lily run for their lives.

They find themselves at the door of a candy-pink house where 3 sisters live: August, May and June Boatwright - played by Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys, respectively. August is a big lady with a big heart who pours all her love into her family and making honey. This is where the bees come in, and where the film really and truly begins.

The entire film is draped in honey: it's golden and easy. There are dragonflies and dappled leaves, budding love affairs and cold lemonade on the porch. All set to a backdrop of the buzz of bumblebees, and the civil rights movement, and the loss of loved ones.

In several places, it's not an easy film to watch. It's amazing that 3 of the stars (Latifah, Keyes and Hudson) started off as singers, as their performances are flawless, with real pathos and power. That being said, not one person lets it down. In fact, I can't think of a single thing wrong with the entire film. Its pacing is perfect; the plot stays close to the novel; it's beautiful to look at; the acting is exemplary; the music is lovely and the direction is magnificent.

It's a beautiful film that you'll want to watch again and again, and it is fully deserving of all 5 stars.
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on 28 September 2010
This is the first review I've ever written, but a few minutes ago I finished watching The Secret Life of Bees. The book by Sue Monk Kidd was brilliant, and gripping from start to finish and you knew exactly what was going to happen to those two young people at the end. The DVD was just as good, and the actors seemed to just step out of the book, they were so well matched to the parts. There were a couple of moments where one saw how very intolerant and bigoted some white people were in America, around the time when things were slowly changing for the black American, and it wasn't comfortable to be watching that in a white skin.
I wouldn't put any labels on this film - it's a good, heart-warming and, sometimes, sad story - which you are bound to enjoy.
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on 27 August 2009
This is a really well made film with a first rate cast. It is set against the backdrop of racial intolerance in the American deep south (and there is much more development of this strand in the book) but essentially it is the story of a group of women coming together, supporting each other through hard times and making the best of their lives. As a "relationship" film I guess it will be enjoyed more by women.
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on 1 February 2009
Ok, so I read the novel in a few short days, and instantly had to watch it. If you are more than aware, most people think the book is far better than the film interpretation, but for me, I'd say the film was on par. It is a beautifully shot film, with some brilliant actresses, and Paul Bettany plays T.Ray just the way I'd imagined him to be. It is a very sad film, but it tells a very interesting story of loss and overcoming difficulties in growing up. Definitely watch it if you've considered it before, you will not be disappointed.
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on 27 June 2009
The book by Sue Monk Kidd has to be my favourite book of all time. I loved it so much, I bought all my friends a copy and they loved it too. When the film came out, it came out on limited release and no cinema near me showed it so I was desperate for it to be released on DVD.

All I can say is I loved it. The acting was superb, the characters beautifully bought to life, especially August played by Queen Latifah and Lily, by Dakota Fanning, although it isn't really fair to pick out just two actresses - they were all wonderful. My only tiny complaint was Paul Bettany as Lily's father. In the book, his character is much uglier, harsher and less sympathetic than Paul Bettany's portrayal but maybe that was deliberate.

I have heard people say this is a story of the fight for racial equality in the USA but that is only one facet of this story. It is a book about fighting for acceptance, whether as a child who has lost her mother, as a woman or as a black person. It is about belonging and the need to be accepted for who we are, without judgement. It is about forgiveness. It is about humanity and love, looking for and finding both in unexpected places, if we only open our eyes and see past the obvious.

It is a wonderful story tinged with sadness but with much humour, with characters we can all relate to, irrespective or race, colour or creed. I highly recommend the book as a brilliant read and the DVD for the way it brings the characters to life.
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on 8 January 2010
Ok, So i've always been a Dakota Fanning fan, and tend to watch whatever movies shes in as shes a fantastic actress. I bought this movie without having seen or heard of it before, and i can honestly say i watched it 4 times the day i recieved it. I never do this! And each time i watched it, i got something different from it.
Its full of happiness, sadness, and it really captures the problems that were going on through the period of time.
The choice of cast were perfect; Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys. Need i say more? I also thought the lady who played 'May Boatwright' was fantastic. Shes probably the least mentioned in reviews as shes less known, but she played a difficult, emotional role, and she deserves huge credit for it, same with Dakota too.
The choice of music also stood out for me too - I wouldn't say its all well known, which really completes it for me. It was tracks i've never heard before so it completely set the scene, and had me mesmorized.

The movie is just about a girl growing up in South Carolina with her awful dad, on a peach farm. Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) is her carer, and they have a real connection. When things go wrong at home they run away to a honey farm which may have a connection to her mother, whom she killed as a child. The story goes through difficult times, but justice prevailing almost always. They stay on the farm, and discover people who touch their hearts and change their lives in ways they could never imagine.

Don't think twice when deciding whether to buy or not. Whether you know any of the cast or not, the story is so brilliant and i recommend for all ages. Its just such a beautiful, touching movie, and the cast is spot on. There is no fault in this movie whatsoever. Just get it - you won't regret :).
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on 7 October 2009
I thought this film was great despite not reading the novel. I read previous reviews on Amazon and purchased this movie. The actresses in this film were brillant especially Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah. The film dates back to the 1960's with the civil rights movements. There are some sad moments in the film, especially as it addresses the issue of racism at that time. It was interesting seeing the process of making honey from bees. There was romance with alica Keys, good music and overall I would definitely recommend watching this movie. The Secret Life Of Bees [DVD] [2008]
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on 18 December 2010
This film is a wonderful, emotional, powerful story. Keep a handkerchief nearby as your emotions will surge as you watch scenes of life, sorrow, hate, despair, hope, love and happiness. The acting is superb. If I had spent triple the money on this film I would still feel that I got a bargain.
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on 31 October 2009
A captivating film from beginning to end,always interesting to watch,with a good unpredictable storyline and
great acting.I would give this film 5 stars but I think that it is a little too depressing at times for the
tastes of many people - including myself.But if you're looking for a fine adaptation of a book then this is one.
Don't be put off by all the music stars in the cast because they all played believable characters and seemed to fit into the world being portrayed here.
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on 12 September 2009
I may have liked the film much better had I not read Monk Kidd's book first - but then again, I may have never bought it, either.

It's a visually beautiful film with a good cast, sharp period detail and a touching story. However, the director has made a strange choice to turn an intimate, a bit rough on the edges, and very honest story told by a teenage girl into a smooth and PC epic tale delivered in the third person. Lily's journey from denial to acceptance of what happened to her mother and her own role in it is central in the book, but becomes more of a pretext in the film to raise a number of IIMPORTANT AND SERIOUS SUBJECTS : racial discrimination - check, civil rights - check, feminism - check, spirituality - check, growing up - check. And, given the high stature of the enterprise, the delicious love story between Lily and Zach (a smart and utterly charming black boy she befriends at the sisters' house) that contributed greatly to the magic of the book, did not make it into the Big Themes list. There's a timid beginning of something, which is then swiftly ripped in the bud, before anything "naughty" would have a chance to happen. Worse, this non-story is wrapped up in an entirely implausible scene, in which a noble, precautiously wise and appropriately stiff Zach plants a chaste kiss on even stiffer Lily's lips and tells her, "Remember our story". Which she promises to do, with an irritatingly saintly look and a Mona Lisa smile on her face...

Please. Why on earth would two cute sexually awakened and mutually attracted 14-year-olds, admittedly free of racial prejudice, ever want to voluntarily discontinue their romance? I suppose, the director's answer is: because the political climate of the time was not yet ripe for such affairs. And that, precisely, is my problem with this film.
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