By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer of HeidiTown.com I may be one of the only female readers who has not read Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, The Secret Life of Bees. Not surprisingly, the phenomenally popular book has spawned a star-studded movie.
This story has a similar feel to Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), based on one of my favorite books by author Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. However, Bees lacks the comedy relief provided by Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy in Fried Green Tomatoes.
The south continues to be a popular setting for many writers; the rich history and lush setting seem to provide ample inspiration for a writer’s pen. In this story, Lily (Dakota Fanning) has grown up with her father, a strict and unloving man who refuses to tell Lily anything about her dead mother. Lily decides to runaway with her family’s black maid, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). The unlikely duo find their way to a nearby town where Lily believes she may find answers about her mother.
The two girls take refuge with the Boatright sisters, August (Queen Latifah), May (Sophie Okonedo) and June (Alicia Keys). The sisters live in a bright pink, well-appointed house and keep honeybees. As time goes by, Lily and Rosaleen feel as though they have found paradise, but soon find there is no place on earth without its share of sorrows.
Hollywood actors may have to start fighting for their jobs, as it appears the positions are being filled by singers-turned-actors. In this movie alone there are three actresses originally famous for their singing chops, not acting skills.
Jennifer Hudson, who has already proven to be a more than competent actress by receiving an Academy Award for her role in Dreamgirls, once again gives an impressive performance in Bees. I have always liked Queen Latifah, even back when she was “just” a rapper. In her role as August, matriarch of the Boatright clan, she is extremely likable and convincing as a motherly sage. Even Alicia Keys, better known for her skills as a singer/songwriter/pianist, is engaging as the icy Miss June.
In the end, Dakota Fanning’s performance leads the way in this all-star cast. However, I’m not sure she could have pulled it off without being surrounded by so much talent. British actress is Sophie Okonedo is outstanding as the troubled Miss May and the entire supporting cast steps up to the task in this movie.
At times it is a bit over the top in terms of drama, but overall The Secret Life of Bees is a solid, pretty movie with a sweet, sometimes honey-coated storyline – the perfect movie for a night out with the girls or a mother-daughter movie night.
Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is a writer living in Northern Colorado with her husband, feisty cat and clever German Shepherd. She is a contributing writer at the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor, as well as co-owner of Ryan Schlaefer Fine Furniture, Inc. available at the Denver Design District. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Heidi has a B.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University. She has always loved movies, books and food; she explores all three at www.HeidiTown.com.