As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.
Cecil Gaines was a sharecropper's son who grew up in the 1920s as a domestic servant for the white family who casually destroyed his. Eventually striking out on his own, Cecil becomes a hotel valet of such efficiency and discreteness in the 1950s that he becomes a butler in the White House itself. There, Cecil would serve numerous US Presidents over the decades as a passive witness of history with the American Civil Rights Movement gaining momentum even as his family has troubles of its own. As his wife, Gloria, struggles with her addictions and his defiant eldest son, Louis, strives for a just world, Cecil must decide whether he should take action in his own way. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
In the original script, Cecil Gaines meets President Barack Obama. Lee Daniels considered asking the president to play himself. Since the film was shot during the height of the 2012 presidential election, Daniels decided to cast actor Orlando Eric Street in the role instead. The scene was shot but ultimately discarded, and archival footage of the real President Obama was used. See more »
In fine dining, it is custom to set drinks from the right with your right hand, clear from the right with your right hand, and serve food from the left with your left hand. Several times throughout the film these customs were neglected, which seems strange for a staff of professional servers to do. See more »
Moving, nuanced, historical saga of the finest quality
Long admired the work of Whitaker. As a life long fan of movies and long time student of American politics and history, but unfortunately a cranky old left winger from the frozen North, my opinion can be safely ignored.
This picture will win Best Picture at the Oscars. FW will win best actor. Oprah will be nominated but will lose.
I was moved by ever scene. I had to wipe away some tears in more than one moment of this wrenching family story. Some people may say that FW underwhelmed, but I believe his underplaying was not really underplaying but instead was subtle, nuanced and slowly built up a complex personality. Oprah shaded her role in an equally effective way. The overall pacing of the film seemed just about perfect.
I was delighted and surprised to see the actors assembled to play the Presidents. I had not read about them in advance. John Cusack as Nixon and Rickman as Reagan I found especially effective. I was surprised to learn about Reagan's effort to pay black WH staff equally and to ensure that they had access to internal promotion and departmental transfers to more high paying jobs.
So would I recommend this film to friends, yes, unreservedly.
18 of 31 people found this review helpful.
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