This is the first book to movie review here at The Readable Kingdom, and it surely will not be our last! Before I get to the goods, if you haven't read The Secret Life of Bees, be sure to check out my review of it here. Justine, a fellow blogger for The Readable Kingdom, just so happened to point me in the right direction with the movie! She's essentially the pop culture diva in the group and I trusted her solid recommendation of The Secret Life of Bees. I'm going to break the movie down into a few portions. My first portion being the casting.
Lily Owens- Dakota Fanning
August Boatwright- Queen Latifah
Rosaleen Daise- Jennifer Hudson
June Boatwright- Alicia Keys
May Boatwright- Sophie Okonedo
T. Ray Owens- Paul Bettany
I'm sure most of you are familiar with Dakota Fanning. I remember her in Uptown Girls when she was super young. I was so so surprised with Fanning's performance in the movie. She truly held her own. The raw emotion she portrayed as Lily was phenomenal. It was believable and compassionate. Moving on to some other big name actresses we have Queen Latifah, which to be completely honest, I did not picture August like that at all. Queen Latifah definitely does have those soft and gentle facial features, but there was just something about her that seemed a little off. Then there's two stars who are more famously known for their musical encounters, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys. I had my doubts about these two, mainly because their main focus is music and it bothers me how a lot of people who have money forge their way into the acting world, however, Alicia Keys played a perfect June with a tough exterior that could somehow be broken down by the marvelous and caring Neil while Jennifer Hudson managed to pull off Rosaleen as a mother figure to Lily. As for the other actors/actresses that were not big names, I have to say they were awesome as well! Sophie Okonedo captures May perfectly with her genuine sense of caring and the darkness behind her past and the wailing wall. The casting overall was great, which can be tricky for book to movie adaptations.
Next I would like to move on to the plot. Being a hardcore follower of the plot I was pretty happy about how the story flowed together. For the most part the movie followed the plot quite well, although I was a little disappointed in a few things, like the ending for example. At the end I definitely was hoping for something a little altered than what the movie had to offer. Don't get me wrong, the ending was good, but I can get pretty picky about these sorts of small changes. I wish I could mention the parts that I wish were different, but I really don't want to spoil it for people who haven't read the book yet!
Other factors that added to the movie was the music, which was a mix of beautiful guitar/piano instrumentation/other great artists featured, and also the lovely setting. I thought it was incredibly awesome getting to actually see August, Lily, and Zach interact with each other out with the honey bees. The whole process of making the honey is so intricate and interesting to me so I definitely liked seeing that come to life.
Overall, The Secret Life of Bees was a fantastic movie, besides a few minor glitches, I found it was a pleasure to watch. Lastly, I would like to mention that while it was a terrific movie, for some reason I found it to be too short. I sort of wished that it lasted longer, maybe to go more into detail about each of the sister's lives or focus on the honey making process even more. As the credits rolled I thought it went by too quick. Again, it's a great movie, but I found it to be a little short. I think if you're a fan of the book you should absolutely check the movie out and I also think that anyone who even hasn't read the book should check the movie out! It's a movie for all ages, so it could make for a great family time watch.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars - I really liked it. Worth renting.