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The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  17 October 2008 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 17,752 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 52 user | 108 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

Set in South Carolina in 1964, this is the tale of Lily Owens, a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother. To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (novel)
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12 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Renee Ford Clark ...
Doll (as Renée Clark)
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Violet (as Sharon Morris)
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Sugar Girl
Emma Sage Bowman ...
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Storyline

Set in South Carolina in 1964, this is the tale of Lily Owens, a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother. To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father T-Ray, Lily flees with Rosaleen, her caregiver and friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters, Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping. Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Bring Your Girlfriends, Sisters, Mothers and Daughters

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic material and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 October 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida Secreta das Abelhas  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,527,799 (USA) (17 October 2008)

Gross:

$37,766,350 (USA) (20 February 2009)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(director's cut) |

Sound Mix:

| (as Dolby Stereo)|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jennifer Hudson said in an interview that director Gina Prince-Bythewood had sent her to a store to get several items and while she was there, the staff and the customers verbally and racially abused her. The incident was, in fact staged by actors under Bythewood's direction in order for Hudson to get the feel of a racially tense environment, the time and setting of the film, and to help her with her characterization. See more »

Goofs

The story takes place in 1964. Throughout the story, June wears a silk-screen NAACP t-shirt. Silk-screened t-shirts did not exist until the issuance of a patent for the garment screen printing machine in 1969. See more »

Quotes

Lily Owens: You think something being an impossibility makes you think about it even more?
May Boatwright: Like what?
Lily Owens: I don't know. Like... kissin'.
May Boatwright: That ain't impossible. When I was 15, I made a 7UP cake for this boy. After that, he kissed me all the time.
Lily Owens: What'd it feel like?
May Boatwright: Like I was gonna burst.
Lily Owens: Miss May, I know you get real sad sometimes. My daddy never feels. He never felt anything. I had rather be like you.
May Boatwright: A worker bee weigh less than a flower petal, but she can fly with a load heavier than her. But she only ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Anne Hathaway/The Killers (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude (From The Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 In G Major)
(1717-19)
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Solid film...
14 September 2008 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

I caught an exclusive screening of this film a week back and I must say, it might be the best film featuring a mostly black cast since "Antwone Fisher." The story centers around Lily (Dakota Fanning), a poor, lonely little girl in the deep south, who deals with a tragic past and a miserable, cruel father (Paul Bettany). Her life revolves around dreams of being every bit like her deceased mother and her relationship with her caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson).

In the midst of the civil rights movement, Rosaleen finds herself in some trouble with the locals, inspiring Lily to flee with her to a South Carolina town that she believes holds the secret to her mother's past. In this town, they find refuge with the Boatwright sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo), who take them in on the strength of a story concocted by Lily. Through their cultured world, filled with beekeeping, a lucrative honey business, religious beliefs and love, Lily finds the security she has longed for and finds the answers to questions that haunted her for years.

The director (Prince-Brythewood) did a great job at making us care about the characters, even the miserable father played excellently by Paul Bettany. Alicia Keys shows that some R&B singers can actually perform well in a movie, playing the snooty June Boatwright. However, the best performances has to be between Fanning and Okonedo, who played the gentle, simple minded, manic depressive May Boatwright. If Okonedo reminded me less of Thandie Newton's character in "Beloved," I would've predicted an Oscar nomination depending on this year's competition. Maybe there's one in store for Bettany? Its all left to be seen.

The film has its flaws. It dragged for a good portion of the first thirty minutes as we watch Lily and Rosaleen mill about, doing mundane things in their pitiful lives. But then it really picks up when they meet the Boatwright sisters. The characters were balancing on a thin line between empathetic and sympathetic. You never want to be in the latter. And the filmmakers couldn't resist being a bit schmaltzy on occasion, making most of it play like a good after school special with nothing beyond two dimensionality. And my biggest problem with the film... anti-climatic.

Overall, its a solid film and definitely worth the time in seeing.


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