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.
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César Caro Cruz
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)
During the Barack Obama campaign scenes on the porch, Cecil wears an "Organizing for America" T-shirt. "Organizing for America" was the post-inauguration Obama organization, started in 2009. During the 2008 campaign it was "Obama for America." See more »
In a timid year, this film is a flawed, but essential, jolt to the system
The Butler (Daniels, 2013, B+)
This should have been a punchline. At least, that's what I was walking in expecting. From the overblown marketing to the downright bizarre cast, it had all the trimmings of a pure turkey. Here's the thing, though... It's not. The film is not a facsimile of historical events, it is an invigoration of them and despite the relatively classical style on display, Lee Daniels brings a real brio to the proceedings. It helps that he has Whitaker to make it all stick as the film's unfailingly warm and engaging center. Even in the first 20-30 minutes when the film is struggling to find its legs, his performance is an unmannered beauty. The rest of the actors are also galvanized into action, proving that verisimilitude is not the highest criteria for historical fiction. This is a film as powerful, as beautiful, as unlikely, and as raggedly imperfect as the country it chronicles.
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