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The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

PG-13 | | Drama | 17 October 2008 (USA)
2:38 | Trailer

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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 »


Gina Prince-Bythewood (screenplay), Sue Monk Kidd (novel)
12 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Dakota Fanning ... Lily Owens
Queen Latifah ... August Boatwright
Jennifer Hudson ... Rosaleen Daise
Alicia Keys ... June Boatwright
Sophie Okonedo ... May Boatwright
Paul Bettany ... T. Ray Owens
Hilarie Burton ... Deborah Owens
Tristan Mack Wilds ... Zach Taylor (as Tristan Wilds)
Nate Parker ... Neil
Shondrella Avery ... Greta
Renee Ford Clark Renee Ford Clark ... Doll (as Renée Clark)
Sharon Conley ... Violet (as Sharon Morris)
Nicky Buggs ... Cressie
Jasmine Burke ... Sugar Girl
Emma Sage Bowman Emma Sage Bowman ... Young Lily


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:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

17 October 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Vida Secreta das Abelhas See more »

Filming Locations:

Watha, North Carolina, USA See more »


Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,527,799, 17 October 2008, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$37,766,350, 22 February 2009

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$39,947,322, 27 May 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(director's cut) |

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby (as Dolby Stereo)| SDDS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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 »


When Lily and Rosaleen are drinking their Cokes on the grass outside the Boatwright house, you see Rosaleen drink the last of the soda, but you can clearly hear the liquid flowing back into the bottle. See more »


Rosaleen Daise: I know you can't understand. Apologizing to those men would have just been a different way of dying. Except I had to live with it
See more »

Alternate Versions

Home video versions (DVD and Blu-ray) include both the original theatrical version and the extended director's cut of 114 minutes. See more »


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


Heaven's My Home
Written by Ruby Amanfu and Katie Herzig
Performed by Sam and Ruby
Courtesy of Sam and Ruby Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Mediocre but moderately entertaining
15 March 2009 | by ArgemalucoSee all my reviews

I went to see The Secret Life of Bees thinking it would be a light version of The Color Purple and,on some way,it resulted to be like that.However,I would not call it a copy,because although it deals with similar subjects to the ones of that excellent movie,The Secret Life of Bees has a different style and sensibility.But the biggest difference is that,while The Color Purple was tremendously honest,The Secret Life of Bees feels thick and a little bit cloying.This is a mediocre film but I cannot deny it kept me moderately entertained.First,let's see positive points.At the difference of many ex-childish actors,Dakota Fanning is facing her adolescence with aplomb,good presence and brilliant histrionic ability,as she shows on this movie.I am also very happy to see that her image as a "miniature adult" has disappeared.It will be very interesting to see the future of her career and I hope she has as much luck as Jodie Foster,Ron Howard and other ex-childish stars who avoided emotional and professional problems on their adult career.Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah have conventional characters (independent woman and wise matron,respectively) but they bring very competent performances.However,the member of the cast who most impressed me is Paul Bettany.He completely becomes into his character and he shows an unusual level of intensity and credibility.And,as I have previously said,the movie kept me moderately entertained in spite of being mediocre.Now,let's go to the negative elements.The Secret Life of Bees is based on a book written by Sue Monk Kidd and the adaption director and screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood made suffers from the syndrome of "book taken to the big screen".Maybe,Prince-Bythewood wanted to include moments from the book which may were important for her,but not necessarily to the story and as a result,we have many irrelevant moments and other ones which come from nowhere and they do not contribute in anything to the story.Besides,there are various forced scenes which try to make us cry at any cost.In other words,those scenes do not feel honest at all,because they have a lot of manipulation and artificial dramatism.The Secret Life of Bees is not a bad movie.I just found it redundant and too forced,while all the moments which should be honest feel forced.I think I can give this movie a slight recommendation because of its excellent performances and because it kept me moderately entertained.

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