Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Secret Life of Bees: Novel vs. Movie

As a preface, let me say: I know jack shit about movies, and what makes them bad or good. In my house, there's me, the reader and my Sister, the movie snob. So when I talk about The Secret Life of Bees, I am speaking only as someone who is comparing the movie to the book. Nothing of what I say can be called a movie review, and in no way reflects the overall quality of it. K cool.

So, the book and movie is about Lily Owens, a fourteen year old white girl from the deep south who, after witnissing the injustice inflicted upon her housekeeper and BFFL, Rosaleen, decides to run away from her abusive father T-Ray to the proverbial Promise Land; that is, a small town in North Carolina that was written on the back of an old picture her mother owned (with a black Virgin Mary!). There, she meets three beekeeping sisters who change her life, you guys.

Any nads, I feel like the book and the adaption kind of leaned on each other's weaknesses, if you know what I mean. Where the novel failed, the movie more then made up for, and vice versa.

Like the three sisters. In the novel, they struck me as these Old Southern Black Lady cutouts. Everytime they said something it felt like a joke, making fun of the other entries into their genre. The cast, however, made them into real people that existed as something other then life lessons for our protagonist. This is largely thanks to Sofi WhatSerName and Alicia Keys' performances and not so much the source material (which I maintain is a pretty lackluster version of Because of Winn-Dixie or something.....)

But then you got Rosaleen and Lily, who were failed tremendously by both the film adaption as well as the novel, but moreso with the movie just because a) Jennifer Hudson is way too soft and thinning? to play the tough-as-nails housekeeper and Dakota Fanning just phones in her usual dreamy-eyed little girl impression. But then, the book treated Rosaleen as this hard, unlikeable wench who was prepared to whoop Lily's white ass at the drop of a hat (albeit, not a totally uncalled for aggression). Actually, come to think of it, I actually prefer Jennifer Hudson's motherly no-nonsense air, which is also a good companion to Queen Latifiah's mother no-nonsense air, except way less cheesy.

Then May, the middle sister with a tendency to cry at the swatting of a fly, is treated way more like a human being then her novel counterpart. Again, Sofi WhatsHerName is pretty good at what she does. Much less infantile, yet still retaining that childlike sweetness that one would like about a borderline-mental woman in her mid-twenties.

So yeah. This is why Sister does the movie reviewing.

PS: Magical!Negro abound.


Simon said...

Okenado. Sophie Okenado. Sophie. Okenado.

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