The Secret Life of Bees (2008) Review

Lily Owens a teenager in 1964 decides it is about time she learns the truth about her mother running away to a small town in South Carolina and finds a family of women who can help her connect to the past she knew nothing about.


Lily Owens is haunted by her past trauma of accidentally shooting her mother at a very young age and struggles to survive her life with her abusive father T. Ray. He is constantly horrible to his daughter and resents everything about her and the past life he had. Rosaleen Daise who works for them is the only person she can confide in and attempts to stand up for her with the racial issues that are still around in the town they live in.

When she runs away Rosaleen is with her and they attempt to find a safe place to stay while searching for the truth about her mothers past life. This is lead by the bees and some honey which Lily recognises and they find August Boatwright who is a very strong and independent black woman running her own business producing the honey, living with her sisters June and May.

The three sister all very different with June not wanting to admit that she would love nothing more than to marry her boyfriend, too head strong and does not want to feel weak in that sense. May has mental health problems following the death of her twin and is supported by her two sisters in the best way they possibly can. Lily and Rosaleen’s arrival will certainly shake things up a little bit that is for sure.

I found the film to be lovely, heartbreaking and then also heartwarming, sometimes all at the same time. I thought it flowed at a good enough pace where you get to know about the characters and really cared about how everything was going for them. It really was so much more emotional than I could have imagined and had a few small scenes that I was not expecting. In particular the cinema scene with Lily and Zach, which lead to some rather distressing moments in the fallout from that. May was a character that you could not help feel utterly sorry for and seeing how everything ended up for her was truly sad.

The answers Lily received (eventually) from August were not really what she was expecting but it still was what she set out for, but would her father find her and attempt to take her home? That was certainly something that we were waiting to see. In all honesty I thought he would just completely forget about her!

Performances from all of the cast were very impressive with Dakota Fanning leading the film in a good manner. Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah and Alicia Keys were all very strong characters as well which meant they were all given some fantastic scenes and moments to work with. The standout came from Sophie Okondeo who was utterly amazing in the film, I thought she really stole each and every scene she was in with a difficult character to portray. Paul Bettany was a rather horrible character and that isn’t really something we are used to seeing from him.

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