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Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics What's this?

User Score
5.3

Mixed or average reviews- based on 20 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 32
  2. Negative: 3 out of 32
  1. 100
    The performance by Flora Cross is haunting in its seriousness. She doesn't act out; she acts in.
  2. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    75
    One isn't quite ready to forgive the miscasting of Gere, however, who is about as convincing a Kabbalistic scholar as Madonna.
  3. A serious film filled with both great and awkward ideas and made as much from the heart as the head.
  4. Co-directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel, whose visual schemes lent a hypnotic aura to their previous collaborations -- "The Deep End" and "Suture" -- don't find the right balance of story and image this time.
  5. 50
    A drama about dysfunction, spelling bees, mental illness, Hare Krishnas and kaballah. The movie is just as unwieldy as it sounds, except that it also stars Richard Gere.
  6. This well-meaning mistake gets lost in the metaphors.
  7. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    38
    F-A-I-L-U-R-E.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 8
  2. Negative: 3 out of 8
  1. KatS
    Dec 20, 2005
    10
    You don't really get the full meaning of the film until almost the end, so hang in there. In the meantime, you'll enjoy some of the finest acting by the four perfectly casted stars, and an entertaining story. When it ended, it took me a few minutes to piece it all together,and I feel it was about how four people try to find family through a closeness to God. You'll understand what I mean after you've seen it -- it's not obvious. I recommended it to all my friends who aren't "Hollywood only" type of movie goers, and in particular to those who like to discuss movies and bring that discussion into our own real life. I will never forget these touching, true performances. It's a snowball of a movie that gets better, both as the movie progresses, and as I later think about it. Expand
  2. MarkB.
    Dec 3, 2005
    8
    "Bee" warned--this is NOT, for the most part, the heartwarming, feel-good family drama that the trailers seem to want you to think it is. Neither is it a fictional variant on the superb, Oscar-nominated documentary Spellbound; even though a nationwide spelling bee is vital to the plot, directors Scott McGhee and David Siegel (The Deep End) seem to go out of their way to avoid emphasizing it until the very end. That's because this film version of Myla Goldberg's acclaimed novel is, rightly, much more interested in why its central family seems to have everything--they're extremely well-to-do, success-oriented, highly educated, religiously grounded and seemingly very close and loving-- but is in reality (and beyond the father's perception) very close to totally imploding. The spelling competition merely serves as the straw that stirs the drink. Although I haven't read Goldberg's book, this movie played to me like a really good, intelligent short story (with some interesting surface similarities to D. H. Lawrence's The Rocking Horse Winner). If you attune yourself to its purposely slow rhythms and fascinating use of silence as not only a barrier to communication but also a means of communicating in and of itself, you'll love the four lead acting performances. Flora Cross as the possibly supernaturally gifted speller, who learns that sometimes gifts are best used in the service of drawing loved ones together, and Max Minghella as her equally sensitive and gifted but neglected older brother are remarkable, never missing the mark or hitting a false note, while the blend of elegance and fragility that makes Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) such a compelling performer has never been more effectively used than here. As for Richard Gere, he just keeps getting better and better; his early performances in American Gigolo and even Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven left the impression of a very attractively wrapped package with nothing inside, which is probably why he came off so much better in his pair of Becoming A Better Person With The Help Of Miss Right romances, An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman. Three years ago Gere gave his all-time best performance, cast against type as Diane Lane's shy, cuckolded husband in Unfaithful; he almost matches it here as a Jewish scholar who's so rigid and focused on his studies that he seems totally unable to direct his attention and love to one family member at a time. He's eventually set straight by an unlikely source, but the message is clear: intense examination of one's religion as a means of getting closer to God may be all well and good, but perhaps He would be far more pleased with someone who puts a few of his books down and devotes himself a little more to caring for and protecting the wife and kids that God has entrusted him with. Expand
  3. pawa.
    Dec 4, 2005
    8
    I read the book and liked it, so casting Gere maddened me, but as it turned out being a pompous jerk worked well for the part. Moving the family out of the synagogue and removing the humour didn't bode well. But in the end, taken on its own, the acting and story are excellent and very moving. That the charactors act out without a center is the whole point, btw. Binoche and Cross may be up for awards. Expand
  4. ChadS.
    Aug 20, 2006
    4
    [***SPOILERS***] What's missing from "Bee Season" is that one scene in which we feel the thrill of Eliza's accomplishment. It's just not there. We think that moment is going to occur when Eliza and Aaron(Max Minghella) interrupt their father's class; something akin to Ned Beatty telling his co-workers that Rudy is going to Notre Dame. But no, we cut to the father's office, the big news already sprung, so we're denied Saul's initial bout of incredulousness. In the novel by Myla Goldberg, to my recollection, Miriam's depression never compartmentalizes Eliza's spelling bee training, and spelling bee competitions(most of the time, the spellers never get to finish their words) into afterthought. When you hire a big star like Juliette Binoche(her wanderings are introduced too early), that's going to happen. Not to mention, Richard Gere(in the book, I imagined Saul Naumann as a cross between Mr. Hooper from Sesame Street and Larry David). "Bee Season" needs more spelling and less, way less withering looks and tears. What if "Searching for Bobby Fischer" spent an inordinate amount of time on Lawrence Fishburne's hobo activities? I loved the book. This adaptation is very, very disappointing. Expand
  5. E.Phillips
    Jul 31, 2006
    2
    What a bizzare movie! Talk about a dysfunctional family!! I wonder why Richard Gere would do such a movie.
  6. DruQ.
    Nov 23, 2005
    1
    The acting is excellent but wasted on this aimless waste of film. Whatever message is trying to be given is lost in the four separate actions of the actors. Expand
  7. billC.
    Dec 6, 2005
    0
    This film is just plain awful.Don't blame the actors, they showed up but the director,producer,writer,and everybody else envolved in this piece of dung should be ashamed. It's that bad. Expand

See all 8 User Reviews

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