The Secret Life of Bees

2008, Drama, 1h 50m

139 Reviews 100,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

The Secret Life of Bees has moments of charm, but is largely too maudlin and sticky-sweet. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Haunted by memories of her late mother and abused by her father (Paul Bettany), 14-year-old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) runs away with her friend and caregiver Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) to the South Carolina town that holds the key to her mother's past. There, Lily meets the Boatwright sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo), who take her in and teach her about beekeeping, honey, and the Black Madonna. Lily also discovers that the truth about her mother is closer than she thinks.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for The Secret Life of Bees

Audience Reviews for The Secret Life of Bees

  • Nov 18, 2015
    Paul Bettany is miscast in his role but Dakota Fanning proves again that she is very talented, only it is frustrating to see a relevant theme such as racism in the South Carolina of 1964 used as a means for a white girl to resolve her personal issues in a sappy, reductive way.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 23, 2012
    Dakota is absolutely adorable!!! it's an educational drama about racial conflict and feminism. It's really cute and it made me cry.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Apr 30, 2011
    Complete and utter feel good Oprah trash.
    Jennifer X Super Reviewer
  • Aug 07, 2010
    In "The Secret Life of Bees," T.Ray(Paul Bettany), a peach farmer in South Carolina in 1964, looks at his 14-year old daughter Lily(Dakota Fanning, who fared better in the criminally misunderstood "Hounddog") with barely held disgust and physically abuses her. While not excusing his actions, it might have something to do with Lily accidentally shooting her mother(Hilarie Burton) during a fight between the couple when she was four. At least, she gets to go out on her birthday with her friend and housekeeper Rosaleen(Jennifer Hudson) who almost starts a riot. Lily rescues her from a hospital and together they escape to a town where August Boatwright(Queen Latifah) lives and runs a successful honey business. She once might have given shelter to Lily's mom and which they now ask for in exchange for work. While it is impossible to hate a movie as achingly sincere and beautifully shot as "The Secret Life of Bees," it is almost as hard to admire it, either. The movie has a tendency to sugarcoat history and several of the characters' actions are born of pure naivete.(Yes, it is okay to be angry, as long as it does not lead to violence.) For example, it was not until 1965 that the Voting Rights Act was passed that would make it easier for Rosaleen to register to vote. On a more personal level, nobody is willing to associate Lily with being a walking disaster area, someone who is going to be very troubled for most of her life. And we definitely need a moratorium on characters who want to be writers.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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