Gina Prince-Bythewood's adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd's novel The Secret Life of Bees stars Dakota Fanning as Lily, a 14-year-old growing up in a small Southern town in 1964. I've not read Sue Monk Kidd's novel which "The Secret Life of Bees" is adapted from but I get a sense that from the movie certain elements were favoured over others.
So as already mentioned that whilst "The Secret Life of Bees" is set during a period of civil unrest the focus of the movie is really on young Lily Owens trying to find out more about the mother she accidentally killed as a small child. Angela Holmes (Olivia Taylor Dudley) was just a regular 27 year old, leading a regular life with her friends until some strange stuff goes down at a surprise birthday party for her. Horror director James Garrick (John Nolan), a direct descendant of Lord and Lady Garrick, is showing his friends a horror movie involving a witch placing a curse on a family for burning her at the stake.
Time has passed since the Raccoon City disaster but it seems Alice (Milla Jovovich) is still a hunted woman and all alone as she continues to try and destroy the Umbrella Corporation. When her husband is killed the finger of suspicion points firmly at Cassidy Miller (Joely Fisher) and everyone from her daughter Lucy (Tabitha Morella) to reporter Nora Grant (Denise Richards) believes Cassidy is guilty.
Shortly after moving back to the home where her husband Jack (Todd Allen) was raised, Claire Bannion (Valerie Bertinelli) is hit by tragedy when Jack dies in a fishing accident, which she gets glimpses of due to her psychic abilities.
On the way back from her mother-in-law's funeral, reporter Daria Valdez Morrow (Barbie Castro) is involved in a car crash caused by her arguing with her husband Sam (Casper Van Dien) who was driving. Father Joseph McIntyre (John Lund) has never served aboard a destroyer but that is what he is about to do having been sent to serve aboard a destroyer heading into battle with the Japanese fleet. Having been kicked off the force months earlier when then detective Joan Mueller (Veena Sood) accused her of corruption, Sarah Winters (Sarah Carter) turned to writing and is now promoting her first book "Justice in Limbo". Image and video are used in accordance with Fair Use, and are property of the film copyright holders.

To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father, Lily flees with Rosaleen, her caregiver and only friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. What I mean is that whilst the story is set against the backdrop of the summer of 1964, when the new Civil Rights Act was making life complicated the actual racial tension side of the story seems to take a back seat, cropping up at points but not being the real focus of the story. And what she wants to know is whether her mother loved her as her only real memory is of her mother leaving the family home and then returning to get her stuff. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters, Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping. Lily lives with her emotionally distant father, and her best friend is their African-American housekeeper Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). Instead we have this touching tale of a young girl who goes looking for the truth about her mother, a mother who has haunted her thoughts since she accidentally killed her. It floats around a fair bit to get to the point as it builds up the life of the Boatwright sisters who Lily finds herself living with and the whole time using the subject of Bees as a metaphor for a lot of what Lily learns and encounters. After locals beat Rosaleen for attempting to register as a voter, and Lily's dad goes one step too far during an argument with his daughter, Lily and Rosaleen set out to find the place where the only picture Lily has of her mother was taken. Having written that it doesn't sound touching at all but "The Secret Life of Bees" most certainly is and in a way has the charm and nostalgic style of "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" making it a surprisingly pleasant movie to watch.During the summer of 1964, 14 year old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning - Dreamer) leaves home with her carer Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls) looking to discover more about her mother, a mother who has constantly been in her thoughts when as a young girl she accidentally killed her.
But it is entertaining in a very easy going manner, it oozes warmth and charm as well as a bit of mystery as we discover more not only about Lily's mother but also the Boatwright sisters who seem a diverse bunch.Having said that there are moments of impact in "The Secret Life of Bees" no more so than at the start as through a flashback we see Lily's mother die and also become aware of her volatile and plainly nasty father. That place turns out to be the home of the independent Boatwright sisters, a trio -- Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, and Alicia Keys -- who make a very successful living producing honey.
Travelling across country and leaving her abusive and violent father behind, Lily and Rosaleen come across the Boatwright sisters who take them in.

And whilst the racial tension does take a back seat it does crop up every now and then and credit where it is due as director Gina Prince-Bythewood doesn't shy away from showing the troubles.
Lily and her friend move in with them, and soon the girl learns about both beekeeping and life.
It is through her friendship which forms with August Boatwright (Queen Latifah - What Happens in Vegas) that she learns all about bee keeping but also the truth about her mother. It is shocking when you witness Lily's friend and carer Rosaleen attacked by a group of white men and the same again later on when we witness more racial trouble. But "The Secret Life of Bees" is by no means a movie about the racial tensions rather using it to set the scene and bring in moments of drama which thankfully don't feel out of place.A big reason as to why "The Secret Life of Bees" ends up so charming is down to the performances especially that of Dakota Fanning who is impressive as young Lily. There is no over dramatics, no over acting just a nuanced performance from a young actress who manages to be in tune with her character. She delivers the emotion, the sadness and the joy as she finds comfort and security in the home of the Boatwright sisters.
And whilst the rest of the cast features such strong women in the shape of Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys there is no scene stealing antics, in fact they are all rather restrained but rightly so as it aids in delivering the warmth and charm. Yes maybe Queen Latifah as August Boatwright is too nice and at peace with everything but I will say it again she exudes warmth and it is the warmth of all the performances and the sweet nature of the storyline which makes the movie the charming, touching tale it sets out to be.What this all boils down to is that "The Secret Life of Bees" is a charming warm movie which may occasionally feel a little fake in being so charming and sweet but exudes a wonderful warmth. I get a feeling that certain aspects of the novel have been ignored in favour of the sweet tale of Lily learning the truth and finding security but it doesn't shy away from delivering moments of drama and impact.

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