October 17, 2008

Women at the Box Office This Weekend

The Secret Life of Bees is the story of Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) a 14-year-old girl desperate to find a place where she can belong. For the two people who haven't read the book (I am ashamed to be included in this small group), it is 1960s South Carolina, the Voting Rights Act has just been passed, and Lily is desperate to escape from her abusive father and discover information about her mother who died when she was so little. Her journey takes her to the Boatwright sisters, three women living on their own in a glorious big pink house. These women are special. In a world rife with racism and sexism they survive and thrive through their own honey making business run by the oldest sister, August (Queen Latifah). Middle sister May (Sophie Okonedo) is stuck at age 15 when her twin sister April died, and youngest sister June (Alicia Keys) has become an activist with the NAACP. Lily finds these sisters through a picture her mother left, and as she gets to know the Boatwright sisters, and they her, they all discover they are family and belong together.

I really enjoyed this film. I loved the story, the performances and the power of the women. Here are some of the reasons to see this film: First, it's extremely well done and movingly directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood which she adapted from the novel by Sue Monk Kidd. Second, it is wonderful to see such amazing actresses in one film give such glorious performances. Queen Latifah continues to grow as an actress, and music stars Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys shine. Dakota Fanning proves that she is no longer a kid, and am excited for her continued growth as an actress. Sophie Okonedo shows she is a special actresses as May, a woman locked in adolescence. Third, it's the story of strong African American women, which is pathetically seldom seen onscreen. Lastly, it is timely. The struggle for civil rights and issues of prejudice still resonate today and are important to remember with the election less than three weeks away. And, to top it off, the director said that Sue Monk Kidd loves the film.

Film opens in approx. 1,600 theatres and needs our support. Please see it this weekend. If you are in NY, please join a group of us on Sunday afternoon at 4:30 to see the film at the AMC on 68th & Broadway. Details are here

Other Women-Centric Films in Theatres
Rachel Getting Married
Nights at Rodanthe
The Duchess
The Women: Read interview with director, Diane English
The Family That Preys
Trouble the Water (limited)