Secret Life of Bees

Secret Life of Bees

4.3 49
Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah


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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. She is haunted by memories of shooting her mother when she was a young girl. Lily lives with her emotionally distant…  See more details below


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. She is haunted by memories of shooting her mother when she was a young girl. Lily lives with her emotionally distant father, and her best friend is their African-American housekeeper Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). 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. 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. Lily and her friend move in with them, and soon the girl learns about both beekeeping and life.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
A movie designed to give audiences -- specifically women -- the quintessential "good cry," The Secret Life of Bees springs from the same home-cooked, heartwarming, bittersweet, girl-power primordial ooze that produced genre classics like Fried Green Tomatoes and The Color Purple. Dakota Fanning stars as Lily Owens, a 14-year-old living in a small Southern town, who is haunted by the guilt of accidentally shooting her mother when she was a little girl. When her emotionally distant father (Paul Bettany) goes one step too far during a fight, she sets off with their black maid (Jennifer Hudson) -- who recently tried to take advantage of the just-passed Civil Rights Bill, but was beaten by a mob for registering to vote -- for the place where the one picture Lily has of her mom was taken. Once there, under the guidance of wise beekeeper August Boatwright (Queen Latifah) and her sisters -- the high-strung May (Sophie Okonedo) and the analytical June (Alicia Keys) -- Lily learns valuable life lessons about making honey, racial tolerance, and the healing powers of love. This is the kind of movie that shows how the bonds of family and sisterhood can help anyone survive even the most horrible of life's tragedies -- racism, survivor's guilt, and domestic abuse chief among them. The film maintains a relaxed feel, which fortunately keeps the entire endeavor from slipping into melodrama. Queen Latifah holds the screen like the star she is; very few performers can sell dialogue this sappy, but her artful underplaying sets the right tone for the other performers. She meshes well with Dakota Fanning, whose great gift to this point in her career has been a preternatural maturity. Her roles have largely consisted of children who are much wiser than their years, and her seemingly innate self-possession has allowed her to shine in this regard. Her character here is more of a stretch; while Lily is still more intelligent and composed than you might expect a girl her age to be, she still doesn't have all the answers. When she becomes involved in a tentative romance with a black boy, Fanning aptly communicates the joy she feels discovering something new about herself. This performance indicates Fanning may actually be able to weather what most people refer to as "the awkward stage" for kid actors in adolescence. Subject matter this emotional requires the actors and the filmmakers to walk a very fine line; a single ounce of cynicism aimed at either the super-emotional material, or the audience -- who want such a ceaseless barrage of heightened feelings -- will bury tearjerkers like this one. Thankfully, director Gina Prince-Bythewood seems to possess genuine affection for her characters: they are photographed lovingly, and while the film is by no means strong enough to change the mind of anyone whose instincts are to run screaming from such relentless expressions of emotion, it should more than satisfy those who want to laugh through tears. Luckily, everybody involved in The Secret Life of Bees approached their work like craftsmen, and the final result is a bittersweet product closer to honey than treacle.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Fox Searchlight
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Theatrical version; Director's extended cut; 8 deleted scenes; Adaptation: Beinging the Secret Life of Bees to the Big Screen featurette; The Women and Men of the Secret Life of Bees featurette; Inside the Pink House With Sue Monk Kidd featurette; Life on the Set featurette; The World Premiere featurette; Commentary with director/screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood, producer Lauren Shuler Donner & Joe Pichirallo, and actor Dakota Faning and Queen Latifah; Commentary with director/screenwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood and film editor Terilyn Shropshire

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dakota Fanning Lily Owens
Jennifer Hudson Rosaleen Daise
Queen Latifah August Boatwright
Sophie Okonedo May Boatwright
Alicia Keys June Boatwright
Paul Bettany T. Ray Owens
Tristan Wilds Zachary Taylor
Hilarie Burton Deborah Owens
Nate Parker Neil

Technical Credits
Gina Prince-Bythewood Director,Screenwriter
Ed Cathell Co-producer
Linda Cohen Musical Direction/Supervision
Aisha Coley Casting
William G. Davis Art Director
Mark Fincannon Casting
Lisa Mae Fincannon Casting
Craig Fincannon Casting
Sandra Hernandez Costumes/Costume Designer
Alan Hook Art Director
Mark Isham Score Composer
James Lassiter Producer
Jack Leslie Producer
Ewan Leslie Co-producer
Alex McCarroll Set Decoration/Design
Jay Nierenberg Sound/Sound Designer
Joe Pichirallo Producer
Carl Rudisill Sound/Sound Designer
Terilyn A. Shropshire Editor
Lauren Shuler-Donner Producer
Will Smith Producer
Jada Pinkett Smith Executive Producer
Rogier Stoffers Cinematographer
Warren Alan Young Production Designer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Secret Life of Bees
1. Tragedy [:27]
2. Civil Rights [3:16]
3. Precious Keepsakes [1:32]
4. Confrontation [:14]
5. Fugitives [1:07]
6. Black Madonna Honey [5:08]
7. Woeful Tale [:09]
8. Refuge [2:28]
9. Calendar Girls [:11]
10. Secret Life of Bees [5:13]
11. Beautiful [2:50]
12. Touch Her Heart [1:52]
13. Startling News [2:05]
14. Flavors of Love [4:24]
15. Just Like Her [3:11]
16. Innocent Matinee [:10]
17. Overwhelmed [4:25]
18. Don't Mess Up [1:13]
19. Lily's Mother [3:39]
20. Imperfect Love [:48]
21. Promises [:39]
22. Aching Hole [5:19]
23. Always There [:03]
24. Hope [1:43]


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The Secret Life of Bees 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
LanellaLeigh More than 1 year ago
Interesting story of a young girl seeking her mother's identity while helping herself and her black caretaker escape from the cruel father who blames her for her mother's death. They meet three unique sisters who share a house and secrets that eventually bring closure and hope for the future to everyone. Well performed--casting was excellent Unlike most book adaptations, this one was faithful to the book except in a couple of very minor details. Read the book, saw the movie at the theater then bought the DVD.
BAB537 More than 1 year ago
I generally do not watch any production of my favorite books although I am thrilled I took the time to watch this. This movie has an amazing cast and follows the book almost exactly. I would recommend it to anyone who has or has not read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Secret Life of Bee’s was a wonderful book written by Sue Monk Kidd about the hard life of Lily Owens. Lily Owens is a teenage girl who lives in South Carolina set in 1964. Lily’s life is based on a small memory of her mom that died, a mother that Lily accidentally killed. Lily is determined to escape her dreadful home and her cruel father T. Ray. They go to a place where Lily thinks her mother has been, Tiburon, South Carolina. Lily and Rosaleen find themselves living with the Boatwright sisters, a group of sisters that own a bee farm and sell Black Madonna Honey. Lily thinks her mother has known the Boatwright sisters at one point in her life. Through Lily’s inspiring journey she finds comfort, new discoveries, secureness, and even love. Lily deals with guilt from lying and grief for her dead mother. She is always alert in case someone tries to figure out all her secrets. The Boatwright sisters also have their own problems. May, the youngest, deals with the grief from her dead twin sister and can’t seem to keep herself happy. August, the oldest, is the mother of the family, she keeps everything and everyone going. June on the other hand is a closed book. June only opens up to certain people, Lily not being one of them, June and Lily’s relationship grows as the book continues on.  I believe modern day readers could relate to the characters in this story. The mood in this story is very wide-ranging. I feel as though the mood would appeal to a wide audience of readers. The characters portray the mood very well. Lily portrays fear but also strength. May portrays sadness and lostness. August and Rosaleen both portray braveness and T. Ray gives the book a hint of a sinister feel. One thing I liked most about the book was how believable the characters’ actions were. The authors tone really showed through in the characters’ actions. It showed how the author felt about each situation and how she would have dealt with it. I feel as though if I were in the situations that the characters were in I would have dealt with them the same way.  My opinion is that I loved this book. It is hard to point out just one favorite thing about the book because it was all so great. Something I really liked was the setting. I usually don’t read books that are set in the past but after reading this book I definitely will read more. I especially liked how they tied in different parts of history and made connections to the real world. Another thing I loved was the point of view. Lily told the whole story through her eyes and talked about how each thing affected her. I usually like when books have different points of views but sometimes that can get confusing. This book was not at all confusing. I can’t even think of one bad thing about this book, it was just so well written. If I could change something about the book it would be that they should make a sequel. I would love to see how Lily’s journey continues.  Finally I would definitely recommend this book to another person. Judging by how well written this book is I feel like any type of reader would enjoy it. Especially readers who are into the civil rights movement, realistic fiction, and inspiring stories. Overall this book included so many great messages that really changed my perspective on some things. 
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DeathLife97 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adore the book and the movie! Lily is the best, but the best characters are Rosaleen, August and May. I would say buy it as soon as you can. I can guarantee that you won't regret it.
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sweetiepryor More than 1 year ago
A beautiful, thoughtful, lovely faithful adaptation of the book. The actors truly fill their characters with inner-light and tenderness. I thought the selections of the actors were spot on perfect. Many times books to screen fall short of our expectations but this one does not.
I was moved to tears and thoroughly enjoyed this jewel of a movie.
Cati More than 1 year ago
I was bored last wk-end and ordered this on PPV. The storyline was shockingly great the rest of it- adequate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I kept seeing previews for this movie so I rented it. I thought the movie was amazing.I thought the acting was really good. I really liked the cast and thought that they were well chosen. I would recommend this movie to just about anyone.
sc408 More than 1 year ago
This was an extremely captivating movie that addresses a host of issues which include diversity, mental illness and the strength of women in society. I would recommend it for ages 14 and older.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great movies
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This movie tells the other side of what it was like in the 60's. African-Americans actually living their lives like they always did. Keeping each other going, keeping each other strong and letting life go on.
cmmast86 More than 1 year ago
I'm usually the very talkative one on a review but i'm speechless. All I can say is "Bravo! Bravo!" I literally turned into the stereotype woman with the box of tissues. Great movie!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
excellent movie....relationships between characers provided an insight to past ways....while providing an excellent tale which kept you hanging (future scenes sometimes tricky to predict)...just keep a box of tissues handy.
chardell More than 1 year ago
This movie is a great movie to see. It has wisdom and history plus this century background. A must see.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story, strong characters, excellent actors, what more could you want?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started reading the book and stopped -- even though the book is very good and well written. I found the movie to be more to my liking than the book -- possibly because of the actors involved. Their performances were convincing and likeable -- even understated which made them more believeable. The movie is visually appealing as well. I will watch this movie again and again and would highly recommend it; although I believe women will get this movie where men may not. While it is not a "chick flick," it speaks more to emotions and relationships, and let's face it, this is not where many men's strengths lie. Overall -- wonderful!
prudd9 More than 1 year ago
Delightful! Warm hearted tale of family, love and hope. Fantastic cast with superb acting. Everyone was absolutely wonderful. Will be a classic among the great classics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well crafted, well acted and directed. Thoughtful, insightful, revealing and very human. I cared about the well-being of the the characters and was touched by their experiences.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago