secretbeesbluLily (Dakota Fanning) is a 14-year-old who grew up only with her abusive father, T. Ray (Paul Bettany), after she accidentally shot her mother at the age of four. When Lily’s nanny Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) is beaten by a white mob one her way to register to vote, Lily takes the opportunity to run away from home. She and Rosaleen make their way to the nearby town of Tiburon, South Carolina, where Lily’s only remaining mementoes of her mother suggest she’ll find a home.

That’s precisely what Lily finds at the Pepto Bismol-pink home of the Boatwright sisters, a trio of black women who run a beekeeping business on their property. The oldest, August (Queen Latifah), immediately accepts Lily into her maternal embrace, while youngest sister June (Alicia Keys ), a burgeoning Black Power activist, is more skeptical of the white runaway. Also in the house is May (Sophie Okonedo), emotionally damaged by the death of her twin sister some years earlier, who forms an immediate bond with Rosaleen.

The story then follows a series of episodes with each character, as Lily tentatively falls for August’s godson Zach (Tristan Wilds), June repeatedly turns down proposals from her boyfriend Neil (Nate Parker, as charming here as he was in his breakout Great Debaters role), and Lily slowly decides to tell August the real reason she’s arrived on her doorstep. There’s tragedy and a racially-motivated mob attack, but for the most part Secret Life of Bees brings more tears of joy than sadness.

This is a film saved by its interesting, often effective performances. Fanning is still having a hard time growing into her adolescent acting career. She seems a good two films away from finally making peace with post-pubescence. On the other hand, Hudson and Latifah are excellent in their roles.
Movie Content: 4/5

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Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The film is very colorful throughout. Colors are vibrant carrying a more natural color palette. Blacks are also very strong and deep. With strong colors and deep blacks, it brings out the fine details. Details are very good. Fleshtones also look very natural. The print is as clean as a whistle with a very pristine look. There is some noise in the background, but nothing distracting. There is a yellowish tint throughout the film which is nowhere overpowering on the print. This is yet another great transfer from FOX.
Print Quality: 4/5

The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix which is mainly a dialogue driven film. Dialogue through the center channel is very clean and crisp. The music on this soundtrack is what mainly pushed the audio in the soundfield. The rears would mainly get some action when music would play or the use of any effects.
Audio Quality: 4/5

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Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, and producers Lauren Shuler Donner & Joe Pichirallo
  • Audio Commentary with Prince-Bythewood and editor Terilyn Shropshire
  • Adaptation: Bringing the Secret Life of Bees to the Big Screen Featurette [HD]
  • The Women and Men of the Secret Life of Bees Featurette [HD]
  • Inside the Pink House with Sue Monk Kidd Featurette [HD]
  • Life on the Set Featurette [HD]
  • The World Premiere Featurette [HD]
  • Beekeeping 101 Featurette [HD]
  • Deleted Scenes – there are 10 minutes of deleted scenes. [HD]

All Special features are presented in high definition.

Special Features: 4/5

The Final Word

This is a good movie with a powerful message that will keep the viewer in an emotional state for a good portion of the film. I was amazed by all the performances in this film, and you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend viewing this film on Blu-ray due to the spectacular print alone.
Overall Rating: 4/5