The Secret Life of Bees is a sweet and moving coming of age tale set in the South Carolina in the mid-60's, a time of great change with the advent of the civil rights movement.
Dakota Fanning plays a fourteen year old girl, Lily, haunted by the memory of her dead mother (and the fact she accidentally shot and killed her).
She flees from her unloving father's peach farm with her caregiver, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson), after Rosaleen makes a stand against the local racist Southern townsfolk and gets beaten up and imprisoned at the hospital.
Lily helps her escape and she follows a clue from the back of a photo in some of her mum's few surviving possessions, just a town's name. When they get there she spots a jar of honey in a shop window with the same picture of a black madonna on the label that was also amongst her mother's belongings and so they head to the home of the Boatwright sisters to seek sanctuary.
Creating a clearly transparent lie, they are still welcomed by the sisters, the matriarch bee-keeper August (Queen Latifah), slightly simple remaining twin May (Sophie Okenedo) and the frosty June (Alicia Keys) who refuses to marry.
Lily learns how to collect honey from bees, gets more lessons in racial intolerance and her first taste of love, discovers more about her mum and ultimately finds a family of mothers and the love she had been missing in her lonely life. And the implication is, they all live happily ever after (apart that is, from May who sadly dies).
Based on the best-selling novel by Sue Monk Kidd, the story is a simple and sweet story, quite sentimental and emotional at times, but a real feel-good movie.
We had a real crier sitting in front of us (a hysterical gay man), blubbing away or cheering along (a constant outpouring of "you go girl") at the slightest bit of emotion or humour, but there were other sniffles and laughter in the audience throughout the movie which is always a good sign of an appreciated movie.
After the bleak Blindness and abysmal Max Payne, it was great to watch such a charming and enjoyable film.
When did it happen that movies have more singers in them than actors? We have Alicia Keys putting in an OK performance in a one dimensional role that doesn't real have much range and Jennifer Hudson following up her Dreamgirls and Sex and the City appearances with a convincing supporting character.
The real stand out star is Queen Latifah, of Hairspray and Chicago fame and much more (including the Jenny Craig slimming adverts), giving a powerfully moving performance, especially bringing a tear to the eye when she discovers her poor drowned sister May.
Also I can't praise Dakota Fanning enough, who I've loved in everything I've seen her in - the Taken mini-series, War of the Worlds and Man on Fire. Why is it that American child stars are so much more convincing that British child actors, who all seem like they've stepped straight out of stage school? Now I just hope that she doesn't go off the rails like most Hollywood child stars like Haley Joel Osment or does a 'Lindsay Lohan' on us.
Anyway, I highly recommend going to see The Secret Life of Bees and give it a well deserved four **** stars.
Also can you believe on the celebrity front, who should be at the Arclight foyer as we left picking up some tickets, but Entourage star Adrian Grenier. The poor guy, he must think I'm stalking him, or maybe he's stalking me?!?
I do have to ask myself, are there any other celebrities in Hollywood?
After the cinema I whizzed to Runyon Canyon with Cooper, my six month old pup. Being later on a Sunday, it was dog walking bedlam as everyone was taking their chance for the last walk of the day in the cool evening air before the light went.
Cooper befriended two new dogs and we walked along with them and their owner, one dog a perpetual stick carrier (taking it in begrudging turn with Cooper) and the other a mad explorer who races all over. Unfortunately, Cooper decided to follow the older and significantly faster pup into the canyon hills and ended up getting lost amidst the dense bushes.
So with the light fading and with coyotes and rattlesnakes roaming the hillside, after calling his name to no avail I heard the frightened yelps of my lost puppy. I dived into the brush to find him and he was so happy to see me when we found each other. I can't tell you how relieved I was to have my sweet pup back in one piece.
Anyway, we made it the rest of the walk without further incident, although he was totally oblivious of what had happened and would have gladly gone off exploring again if I hadn't kept a close eye on him. He's a bit of a 'follower' I'm afraid to say.
My reward for bringing our pup home safely was a fantastic dinner party with L.A. and London friends, cooked by my other half. And speaking of sweet films and things, we ended the evening with a delicious carrot cake from Sweet Lady Jane, an infamous local bakery on Melrose Avenue.
And that was another eventful day in the life of Jason in Hollywood...