The Secret Life of Bees - Dakota Fanning
"Book club favorite THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES more than just survives its transition to the screen. Thanks to its strong cast, this female-centric drama thrives. Dakota Fanning stars as Lily, a 14-year-old girl living with her abusive father (Paul Bettany) in South Carolina in 1964. Lily struggles with a burden of guilt after she accidentally killed her mother a decade before, and she longs for knowledge of the woman. When the family's caretaker Rosaleen (Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson) is arrested after standing up to a group of violent white men, Lily seizes the opportunity to run off with Rosaleen and search for clues to her mother's life. They arrive at the home of the Boatwrights, a trio of black sisters. Motherly August (Queen Latifah) cultivates the state's most coveted honey, June (Alicia Keys) focuses on her music and on rebuffing the advances of an ardent suitor (Nate Parker), and childlike May (Sophie Okonedo) struggles to stay happy in the turbulent time. But in a still-racist world where the Civil Rights Act has just been passed, the Boatwrights' home acts as a haven for Lily as she searches for information about her mother's past.
The heavy drama could've presented a challenge for Fanning, who has gone beyond the role of a little girl, but she does a fine job. The other actresses in the film, especially Latifah and Okonedo, shine without overpowering the other performances. Bettany departs from his usual charming roles and melts into the difficult part of Lily's violent father. In the spirit of past favorites such as THE COLOR PURPLE and CORRINA, CORRINA, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES presents a gripping look at the South in the 1960s with a nice balance of laughter and tears."