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The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  17 October 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 18,196 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 54 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 »


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



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


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


Bring Your Girlfriends, Sisters, Mothers and Daughters



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

17 October 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida Secreta das Abelhas  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(director's cut) |

Sound Mix:

| (as Dolby Stereo)|


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


The action in the movie took place in July, 1964. When we first meet Zach, he is singing The Four Tops' "Baby, I Need Your Loving," which was not released until August 15, 1964. A few scenes later, the characters are listening to The Supremes' "Come See About Me," which was not released until November, 1964. See more »


Rosaleen Daise: How come you all got names from a calendar?
May Boatwright: Our mama loved spring and summer. We had an April too, but she... she died when she was little.
[runs out of the room, sobbing and humming]
See more »


Featured in The 14th Annual Critics' Choice Awards (2009) See more »


The Honey Song
Written by Sue Monk Kidd
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The Secret Life Of Bees is a powerful, amazing & excellent film followed by strong performances.
27 October 2008 | by (Augusta,Ga) – See all my reviews

Let me just say that the movie NEVER had dull moment or even a second in the ENTIRE film!!! Set in South Carolina 1964, Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) who is haunted by the memory of her late mother, tries to escape her lonely life and bad relationship with her father (Paul Bettany), to get past her horrible incident with her late mother. So, she and her caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) flees to a South Carolina town where it holds the secret of her mother's past. Lily and Rosaleen finds the intelligent Boatwright sisters: August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys and May (Sophie Okenendo) where they take Lily and Rosaleen in, to have a place to stay for a while.

The Secret Life Of Bees is a movie of what you call a "tearjerker" and that's what it is, the movie will touch your heart and teaches you about life, care, love & forget about your horrible past and move on. As for performances, everyone delivers and a couple of Oscar-worthy ones too. Dakota Fanning and Sophie Okenendo are the ones that delivers the Oscar-worthy performances. Come Oscars season, don't be surprised if any of those both actresses will be in the envelope (they deserved to get those nods!!) Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson (R.I.P her brother and mother who just passed away one day ago.) delivered their best performances yet even Jennifer (I thought this was her best performance yet and better than ever Oscar-winning performance in Dreamgirls.). As for the supporting actors: Bettany, Parker and Wilds, they did great as well.

The Secret Life Of Bees is one of this year's best films, rush out and buy a ticket for this wonderful and amazing film!!

21 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Did anyone else love May Boatwright? reminiscent00
Seriously? No love for T Ray? JBMovies123
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closest book to movie adaptation i have ever seen KrystalYoung6
Overly earnest, obvious and lifeless. filmwatcher-2
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