The Secret Life of Bees

Out Now On-Demand

The tag line for this one is "Bring your girlfriends, mothers, sisters and daughters." Sorry gents, you're not invited. Set in South Carolina in 1964, it is the story of young, white, Lily (Dakota Fanning) and her black "stand-in mother". When the latter insults the racist town populace, they escape to a nearby honey farm - kept by three sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo) - to start life afresh. Adapted from the New York Times best-selling novel of the same title.


Directed by

Written by



Rating: M contains violence


Official Site


Dakota Fanning has always seemed like an old woman trapped in a young girl's body. Unable to understand her, Hollywood - even Spielberg himself - spent the last few years mistakenly casting her as 'sleepy dreamer' or 'precocious brat'. The Secret Life Of Bees sees Fanning come-of-age and it's not a moment too soon.

As confused Southern gal Lily Owens, the actress must have felt relief at finally being able to kiss boys, cuss and hurl glass objects at walls. This gifted teenager grounds her angst in a nuanced performance that few A-listers could ever hope to achieve and she proves this by running circles around pop-starlets like Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson. Former hip-hop star Queen Latifah holds her own against the prodigy though and also achieves a career-best here as matriarch August Boatwright.

Set in South Carolina, 1964, Boatwright’s bright pink house is the only place Bees’ characters can retreat to for protection. Horrific attacks on African Americans were, sadly, common occurrences during the era. Though they’re truthful to the time period, the inclusion of these violent bursts distracts from the core narrative of a girl seeking maternal love. Thankfully, Fanning’s performance is so good that she stops the film from becoming a heavy-handed history lesson. She deserves an audience so she can get more opportunities to shine.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)


Above all, it contains characters I care for, played by actors I admire.

Empire [UK]


The source material remains affecting and the cast work hard to add dimension to a lacklustre screenplay. But sadly, it adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

Hollywood Reporter


An affecting ensemble piece that's destined to generate a fair share of awards-season buzz.

Los Angeles Times


What's being sold here is the movie equivalent of the honey-drenched sweet potato biscuits that are forever being passed around on-screen. Their nutritional value may be nil, but they sure look comforting.

New York Times


The film insists so strenuously on its themes of redemption, tolerance, love and healing that it winds up defeating itself, and robbing Ms. Kidd’s already maudlin tale of its melodramatic heat.

NZ Herald (Joanna Hunkin)


Fried Green Tomatoes doused in honey.

Variety [USA]


Like a mouthful of honey, The Secret Life of Bees is cloyingly sweet and gooey, and you're not quite sure you can swallow it undiluted.




I'm very dissapointed to hear that this movie will not be shown in new plymouth cinemas. I, and many others, have read and fallen in love with the novel. So, of course when I discovered that I wouldn't be able to see it unless I coaxed my parents into driving me somewhere for several hours, then I was very upset. I think that Flicks should seriously reconsider playing this film in New Plymouth as I believe it would attract much of our town to see it.

Secret life of bees and the people that steal their honey


Secret life of bees and the people that steal their honey

Don’t worry in this film bees do not disappear causing plants to attack humans and they do not start talking and asking for there honey back. Bees are just part of the journey in this film providing a society that gets along and works together rather than one that is segregated and fights one another.

This film has all the ingredients of a great coming of age story. Young person: check, Long arduous journey: check, Great obstacles to overcome: check, Childhood crushes: check, breakthrough moments (or ‘aaahaaaa’ moments as Oprah likes to say): check, Wooden statues of the black virgin mary: check but quite unique to this film.

Although it’s not quite as powerful as other films in its genre such as ‘Stand By Me’ bees makes an honest attempt. The social unrest of American society at the time provides the base and driving force of the film. In a time when hate and anger are running riot this film shows love and support prevailing (in the end it is still a chick flick)

Whenever I see Queen Latifah I want to hear a song and a story fortunately this film has both.

More powerful than I expected

If you only watched the trailer you'd be forgiven for thinking this is a fairly fluffy "chick flick." The reality is quite different, there's a nasty grittyness to some of the scenes that very quickly brings you down to earth around the time of the Civil Rights Bill in the US. A delight of a film, tough, tender and life-afirming