The Secret Life of Bees (film)
The Secret Life of Bees is a 2008 American drama film adapted from the 2001 novel of the same name by Sue Monk Kidd. The film was directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Will Smith, with Jada Pinkett Smith as the executive producer.
|The Secret Life of Bees|
|Directed by||Gina Prince-Bythewood|
|Screenplay by||Gina Prince-Bythewood|
|Based on||The Secret Life of Bees|
by Sue Monk Kidd
|Edited by||Terilyn A. Shropshire|
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$40 million|
The Secret Life of Bees is noted for Queen Latifah's critically acclaimed performance as August Boatwright. The film was released in the United States on October 17, 2008, and in the United Kingdom on December 5, 2008.
Lily lives on a peach orchard in South Carolina in 1964. Her father, T. Ray, is now widowed, abusive, and often angry towards his daughter Lily. On Lily's fourteenth birthday, as the harvest is beginning, societal and personal unrest consumes her life, and a string of events, a mix of mystical, terrifying, and unjust, pushes her to run away to find a better life.
When Lily runs away, her housekeeper Rosaleen goes with her. Lily is white and naively confident; Rosaleen is African American, in her 20s, politically aware, and proud. Rosaleen is beaten up by three racists and ends up in the hospital. Lily, after an argument with her father, helps Rosaleen escape from the hospital. Lily has but a few hoarded mementos of her mother, who has been dead almost 10 years. One is a label: "Black Madonna Honey", Tiburon, S.C., and so Tiburon becomes their destination.
It takes two days for Lily and Rosaleen to reach Tiburon and find their way to the home of August Boatwright and her sisters May and June. August has used her skills as a beekeeper to build a successful business. She has also built a strong community of black women who gather regularly in prayer, overseen by a life-sized statue of a black woman with an outstretched arm.
Despite the unlikeliness of Lily's lies about their circumstances, August takes them in, as trade for labor. Lily becomes an apprentice beekeeper and later discovers May's “wailing wall”, tucked full of little notes about events that have distressed the brittle and sensitive May. Lily also learns about the "Black Mary" in the living room.
In time Lily confides in Zach, the teenage son of one member in the prayer group and August's assistant beekeeper. Lily and Zach try to watch a movie together, but their disregard for racial barriers, sitting with Zach in the "colored" section, gets Zach kidnapped and assaulted. June and August hide the news from May to try and protect her, but Zach's mother unknowingly reveals the news to her. Out of grief, May drowns herself to escape the pain of feeling the world's hatred, even though she leaves a note saying that she knows Zach will be returned alive, which happens the next day.
With May's funeral comes some reconciliation and truth. June, strong and proud, agrees to wed her long-time boyfriend. Rosaleen is asked to be part of the household family. Lily, who already believes she probably killed her mother, as seen in flashbacks, now blames herself for Zach's kidnapping and May's death. Lily smashes several jars of honey, feeling unloved and unlovable. Before Lily leaves, August challenges her outlook, and tells Lily about her mother, whom August cared for as a child in Virginia and later sheltered from the abuse of T. Ray.
Meanwhile, T. Ray has figured out where Lily is located. T. Ray finds pin holes in her bedroom wall where a map had been. He eventually comes to take Lily home with him. However, Lily refuses to leave and the three women form a phalanx of support. T. Ray admits that Lily's mother did come back for her, and that he had lied because her mother had not come back for him. With angry reluctance, T. Ray leaves her to be raised on the Boatwright orchard.
- Queen Latifah as August Boatwright
- Dakota Fanning as Lily Owens
- Jennifer Hudson as Rosaleen "July" Daise-Boatwright
- Alicia Keys as June Boatwright
- Sophie Okonedo as May Boatwright
- Paul Bettany as T. Ray Owens, Lily's abusive father
- Hilarie Burton as Deborah Owens, Lily's mother
- Tristan Wilds as Zach Taylor, a friend of May, and Lily’s love interest
- Nate Parker as Neil, June's boyfriend
- Shondrella Avery as Greta Taylor, Zach's mother
Production began on January 7, 2008, in Lumberton, North Carolina, and Watha, North Carolina and ended a few months later. The film was screened in September 2008 at the 33rd Annual Toronto International Film Festival, and had an October 17, 2008, theatrical release.
Original music for The Secret Life of Bees was produced by Mark Isham.
The film features the following songs:
- "Baby, I Need Your Loving" by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr.
- "Come See About Me" by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Edward Holland, Jr.
- "Prelude (From The Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 In G Major)" by Johann Sebastian Bach
- "Six Canonic Sonatas Op. 5" by Georg Philipp Telemann
- "Sonata No. 3 In a Minor For Cello & Continuo: Allegro" by Antonio Vivaldi
- "The Honey Song" by Sue Monk Kidd
- "Beautiful" by India.Arie
- "Breakaway" by Irma Thomas
- "Come See About Me" by The Supremes
- "Doncha Know (Sky Is Blue)" by Alicia Keys
- "Heaven's My Home" by Sam & Ruby
- "Hippy Hippy Shake" by The Swinging Blue Jeans
- "I'm Alright" by Little Anthony and the Imperials
- "It's All Right" by The Impressions
- "Keep Marching" by Raphael Saadiq
- "Mary" by Joe Purdy
- "Song for Mia" by Lizz Wright
The soundtrack for the film was not released as an album.
Rotten Tomatoes reported the film has an approval of 59% based on 139 reviews, with an average rating of 5.94/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "The Secret Life of Bees has charm, but is largely too maudlin and sticky-sweet." Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
The film was No. 3 at the North American box office for its opening weekend with $10.5 million. It later went on to gross $40 million worldwide.
The film received seven NAACP Image Award nominations, which include Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning), Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture (Nate Parker), and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, and Sophie Okonedo). The movie won the Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture.
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