By Ithuteng Mashabela
“I killed my mother when I was four years old.” These are the first words spoken in the opening scene of The Secret Life of Bees. If nothing else, curiosity will keep you watching. The story, which is based on the Sue Monk Kidd novel of the same name, is centred on the life of fourteen-year-old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning), who lives with her father, T-Ray (Paul Bettany) and her caregiver, Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson). Lily’s curiosity about her late mother’s past, along with the need to escape from the oppressive guardianship of her father, drives her to a bee farm in Tiburon. There she meets the Boatwright family, uncovers secrets about her mother’s youth and finds love. It’s a tale of tribulation, pain and coming of age, with elements reminiscent of the 1990’s film Matilda.
The star of the show truly is Dakota Fanning. The emotion she so effortlessly brings to the screen tugs at the heart strings in every scene. Another sterling performance is given by Alicia Keys, who has proven her agility and acting abilty in movies such as Smokin’ Aces and The Nanny Diaries. Although the movie has been criticised for relying too heavily on its cast for its appeal, it has indubitably brilliant acting and some genuinely charming moments.
The Secret Life of Bees gets seven stars on the Activate-o-metre.