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Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees

"Some things in life, like the color of a house, don't really matter. But lifting someone's heart? Now, that matters."
So tonight my friend invited a few of us over for dinner and a movie at her place. After much debate about what to see (mostly from me) we settled on this Sue Monk Kidd movie adaption of her bestselling book. I was disappointed that my sole vote didn't count one iota in the grand scheme of things...
The first few minutes of the movie were quite good, riveting even, and set the pace for the story to come. It grabbed my attention from the start. Then the main character, played by Dakota Fanning, runs away from home with her maid and confidante, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) and right into the arms of three sisters down south, May, June and August (played by Sophie Okenedo, Alicia Keys and Queen Latifah, respectively). Being raised poor in the south during the civil rights movement, this young white girl had very limited views of race and Black people in general. So after living with the sisters and spending more time with Rosaleen, she realizes just how different they all are and how much her views on race were so tainted by her own vision of what she was told life really was and who people really are. They teach her about the love they share for one another and the perseverance they count on during painful times. They inevitably teach her to grow up.
HOWEVER (yes, you knew it was coming), I kept relating the sisters and Rosaleen to the notion of the mammy. During the civil rights era, this one sole white girl has cured herself of ignorance and has opened her mind up to Black people, but kinda serves as some kind of heroine in the film. I just wasn't feeling that. Basically these women take care of her and speak in a broken southern drawl and offer their "yes ma'ams" and the like. I just got tired of it after an hour. It was like a big pink elephant in the room that no one talked about. Although I should mention that Alicia's character was straight about her opinion on having a young white girl stay in their home during the height of the civil rights movement. And I LOVED her for that.
The story was okay, but I think there was an underlying mammy factor that rubbed me the wrong way.

My rating: B-


Charreah said...

I am usually the first one to get riled up over mammy-ism, but LOVED this book and movie!!!! And they save HER, not the usual other way around. Alicia did rock.

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