The Secret Life of Bees


The Secret Life of Bees

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 138


Audience Score

User Ratings: 111,779
User image

Watch it now

The Secret Life of Bees Photos

Movie Info

Set in South Carolina in 1964, the film 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, honey and the Black Madonna.


Queen Latifah
as August Boatwright
Dakota Fanning
as Lily Owens
Jennifer Hudson
as Rosaleen Daise
Alicia Keys
as June Boatwright
Sophie Okonedo
as May Boatwright
Paul Bettany
as T. Ray Owens
Hilarie Burton
as Deborah Owens
Tristan Wilds
as Zach Taylor
View All

News & Interviews for The Secret Life of Bees

Critic Reviews for The Secret Life of Bees

All Critics (138) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (81) | Rotten (57)

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

The Secret Life of Bees Quotes

News & Features