Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning), a motherless 14-year-old in 1960s South Carolina, flees home with her nanny, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson), who was beaten and arrested after trying to register to vote. The two find shelter at the home of honey-making maven August Boatwright (Queen Latifah) and her sisters, bonding powerfully to the strong-willed siblings.
Heartwarming adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd's novel also stars Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo.
Lily runs away with her to a town she believes may hold the secrets of her mother's life. There the pair meet the Boatwright sisters August (Queen Latifah), June (Alicia Keys) and May (Sophie Okonedo)--who produce the area's famous Black Madonna honey. They eventually provide Lily with the unconditional love she never felt she had and also show Rosaleen that being a black woman in the South doesn't mean she can't have a sense of worth. The Secret Life of Bees doesn't try to pass itself off as a historical documentation of race relations in the 1960s. But the fictional slice of life still resonates because of the feelings of injustice that it stirs up.
Though the film is written to show the disparity between blacks and whites, there is always a strong sense of hope, thanks to the lead actresses who bring empathy and dignity to their roles. Hudson exhibits some of the same quiet grace that Regina Taylor brought to her role as the family housekeeper in the superb TV series I'll Fly Away. Latifah has the part of wise matriarch down pat, even when she's playing a sister rather than a mother. And it's clear that Fanning is making a seamless transition from kid to young adult roles. Whether she's giving an impassioned monologue or listening thoughtfully, Fanning brings nuance and intelligence to her role. -- Jae-Ha Kim
|Recommended Age||12 and up|
|Actors||Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo|
|Running Time||110 minutes|
|Studio||20th Century Fox|
|Release Date||Feb 3, 2009|