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

User Score
8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 25 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: The Secret Life of Bees, based on the New York Times best selling novel and set in South Carolina in 1964, is the moving tale of Lily Owens a 14 year-old girl who is haunted by the memory of her late mother. To escape her lonely life and troubled relationship with her father, Lily flees with Rosaleen, her caregiver and only friend, to a South Carolina town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by the intelligent and independent Boatwright sisters, Lily finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping. (Fox Searchlight)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. 88
    Above all, it contains characters I care for, played by actors I admire.
  2. It warms the heart in the hands of such sensitive storytellers.
  3. Suffused with a golden glow, the movie looks and sounds like a fairy tale.
  4. What's being sold here is the movie equivalent of the honey-drenched sweet potato biscuits that are forever being passed around on-screen. Their nutritional value may be nil, but they sure look comforting.
  5. Reviewed by: Jessica Reaves
    50
    Sweat and good intentions will take you only so far. And they take Bees right up to the threshold of entertaining--but not one step further.
  6. Fortunately, the cast cuts through a cloying script and boosts unsure direction with sharply focused performances.
  7. Reviewed by: Liz Beardsworth
    40
    The source material remains affecting and the cast work hard to add dimension to a lacklustre screenplay. But sadly, it adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

See all 32 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Negative: 0 out of 8
  1. AlbertC.
    Oct 18, 2008
    10
    Outstanding!
  2. ShanaK.
    Nov 15, 2008
    9
    The story was well written and well acted. A character driven story where the characters have a lot of depth and the story definitely evokes emotion. Bring kleenex if you cry easily in movies as there were lots of sniffles in the theatre. Expand
  3. FataM.
    Oct 27, 2008
    9
    Wonderful, moving, and sooo timely ... the juxtaposition of the civil rights movement vis-a-vis Obama (today's "Zach") having a powerful chance at the presidency. Extraordinary acting on Queen Latifa's part; so warm, charismatic, luminous! Faaning did an excellent job as well. Expand
  4. KenS.
    Jan 2, 2009
    9
    I love films that reach deep into my soul to resurrect emotions that are stiffled by the daily march of stress layden life. This film crushes ones heart. tosses it around, plants it on an alter and then heals it. Expand
  5. Raprilc
    Oct 18, 2008
    6
    'The Secret Life of Bees' is occasionally heartbreaking, but what sticks out for me is how miscast it was. (Rosaleen was supposed to be much older, for instance.) The actors all gave uneven performances. Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah have been MUCH better in other films. Jennifer Hudson wasn't great at all, and I'm beginning to wonder if she's really just playing every part the exact same way. Alicia Keys was surprisingly good. And Sophie Okonedo was awesome. When the performances are like this, I blame bad directing. It should be noted that the director also adapted the screenplay from the novel; I think she bit off more than she could chew. Expand
  6. JayH.
    Jan 31, 2009
    6
    Dakota Fanning just doesn't have the acting range to pull off the film. Queen Latifah is terrific though. Rather predictable and overly dramatic, it all seems so familiar. Too slow moving at times. It is a well meaning film, but it is flawed. Expand
  7. ChadS.
    Oct 22, 2008
    5
    The Boatwright sisters live in a pink house; the "home of the free", according to John Cougar Mellencamp's "Pink Houses", a song that encapsulates the promises made in the bylaws of the Emancipation Proclamation, which suggests that the "little pink houses" are made for "you and me". The Boatwright sisters not only have property, they also own a thriving honey business. But this is 1964, a hundred some-odd years after Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, and still, the little pink houses for black folks were probably few and far between. Lest not we forget, a diner could display Black Madonna Honey in their window display, but serving black madonnas was another story altogether. But unlike the middle-class "Negroes" in John Singleton's "Rosewood", this utopian life the Boatwright women lead, never comes under attack attack by an unruly white mob. Rather, in "The Secret Life of Bees", it's a pre-teen girl, Lily Owens(Dakota Fanning), who brings disquietude to their lives, unwittingly, like a naive colonialist. When Lily roams around the Boatwright property, this precocious child, in a sense, discovers the woods, discovers the stream; she takes off her footwear and places her bare feet in the water. This act, akin to making yourself at home, is also analogous to colonization. Back home, Lily had a map with a thumbtack pinned to this very spot. Joseph Conrad wrote(from the novel "Heart of Darkness"), "Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours...and lose myself in all the glories of exploration." Although the film expunges blame towards Lily from her role in a family tragedy, it's worthy of note that at the funeral, the filmmaker distances the girl from the black-garbed, black-skinned mourners, by dressing her in a white dress. Prior to the gathering, Lily touches the heart of the black madonna, which saves her, but at the expense of her disparate housemate. Expand

See all 8 User Reviews