“Bees” Stings with Emotion

By by Katie Blemler

The Secret Life of Bees A- Fox Searchlight Pictures Starring: Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah,… The Secret Life of Bees A- Fox Searchlight Pictures Starring: Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo ‘ ‘ ‘ For Lily Owens, the life of a bee holds more promise than that of her own. ‘ ‘ ‘ Free to fly wherever it likes, a bee maintains a life of autonomy. But its natural instincts lead to a balance of independence and collectivity that ensures a life of harmony and productivity. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ The structure of a bee’s life sets the standard of living that each character in ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ aspires to reach. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ ‘mdash; the film adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s bestselling novel ‘mdash; follows a young girl’s journey to find herself through pieces of her untold past, while simultaneously shedding light on the establishment of the Civil Rights Act. ‘ ‘ ‘ The film’s success is cinched with the mixture of great acting and a terrific screenplay based on The New York Times bestseller. Even though most movies-based-on-books fall short of the novel, Bees proves to be an exception. ‘ ‘ ‘ An intertwined story chronicling a critical year in U.S. history with a coming-of-age journey creates the backbone of ‘The Secret Life of Bees.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Lily, played by Dakota Fanning, is a 14-year-old girl whose childhood is stifled by her affectionless father, T. Ray, played by Paul Bettany. Instead of focusing on school and friendships like most teenagers, she is forced to reorganize her priorities and obey T. Ray’s demands. Manning her dad’s peach stand, Lily must endure long days under the sizzling South Carolina sun. ‘ ‘ ‘ Because her mother died tragically when she was just 4 years old, Lily finds solace in her housekeeper Rosaleen, played by Jennifer Hudson ‘mdash; a bold and freethinking black woman. The bond Lily creates with Rosaleen is the closest thing she has to a loving parent figure. While living with T. Ray, though, the two remain unhappy and unfulfilled. ‘ ‘ ‘ Lily dreams of freedom from the strict rules suppressing her and forbidding her from exploring curiosities about her mother. Rosaleen wishes for freedom from inequalities forced upon her not only from T. Ray, but also from society. ‘ ‘ ‘ The opportunity for freedom comes in the form of three hospitable and encouraging black sisters ‘mdash; August, June and May Boatwright, played by Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo, respectively. ‘ ‘ ‘ After leaving home, Lily’s desire to piece together the puzzle of her mother leads her and Rosaleen to Tiburon, S.C. An old Black Madonna honey jar wrapper guides the duo to the three sisters’ vibrant pink house. ‘ ‘ ‘ It is from the acceptance and inspiration of the Boatwrights ‘mdash; led by August ‘mdash; that help Lily find the courage to face her unpleasant past and develop her own voice. And the brilliant optimism illuminating the pink house not only heightens Lily’s confidence, but also further inspires Rosaleen to strengthen her voice and have it heard through voting. ‘ ‘ ‘ The message of ‘Bees’ speaks to a universal audience, to anyone who has faced a personal conflict. By overcoming discouragement, the characters give viewers inspiration to face their own demons and develop their own voices. ‘ ‘ ‘ And this message is conveyed through the fantastic portrayals of struggling characters. Every actor is perfectly cast in ‘Bees,’ ensuring the success of the film. Each character radiates an array of emotions, adding significant depth and layers to the relationships built throughout the movie. ‘ ‘ ‘ Fanning, best known as a child actress in such films as ‘I am Sam’ and ‘Man on Fire,’ proves herself not only capable of more mature roles, but once again shows unparalleled talent. ‘ ‘ ‘ Of the three Boatwright sisters, Okonedo’s portrayal of emotionally troubled and overly sensitive May is most moving. Her ability to switch in a split second from extreme happiness and lightheartedness to intensely felt, absolutely miserable, sorrow is incredibly genuine, giving the movie its most authentic moments of vulnerability. ‘ ‘ ‘ Although shedding light on heavy situations, the sadness of the film is met by happiness, making the story realistic. ‘Bees’ will sting you to the core, but is well worth it.