Secret Life Of Bees (2008)
This is an interesting movie, and don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike it – the acting was pretty great, but something is off about it. The thing that is off? Dakota Fanning. Not her acting – but the fact that she is the focus of the story. Why? Because she is not the most interesting thing in this story. Queen Latifa’s character August Boatwright is.
When we get introduced to the way things operate in this time, and in this place, through Rosaleen’s beating while she is trying to go and register to vote, it sets up August to be incredibly interesting. An African-American business woman operating in this environment has a real story to tell. Now I am not sure whether it is gone into more in the book, and the acting is great, but yeah, the focus is adrift.
Also, the bees? I kind of thought the metaphor there might be more central to the story-telling. I have a notion that the book might be more interesting – that the concentration of the narrative might be different. I also kept getting struck by the notion that this is a slightly askew version of the white saviour story – it is almost as if the other characters are viewed as only coming into focus when Lily (Dakota’s character) is around, and even from what little we see in the movie it’s obvious that isn’t true. What could have been a great movie in other hands, here becomes, by virtue of the acting alone, a mere step up from your average daytime movie fare.