Retro Review: Bee Season

Do films like Pay It Forward and The Life of David Gale make you squeamish or violently ill? Do you like it when a 7-foot hairy man beats you over the head with a mallet marked “film concept”?

As the film, Bee Season concluded I was reminded that once more Hollywood was screaming from one of their mystical pulpits and trying to reach out to the masses. Then I was hit square in the face with a mallet called “sucker!”.

Bee Season begins innocently as Eliza (Flora Cross), a young girl desperately tries to win the affection of her neglectful dad, Saul (Richard Gere) as she strikes out to become spelling bee champion. When Eliza wins, the affection from her dad falls to her but that in turn shuns Eliza’s older brother, Aaron (Max Minghella), who is going through a religious crisis of his own. Furthermore, Saul is unaware that his seemingly stable wife, Miriam (Juliette Binoche) is about to have a breakdown that will rock the family to its very core.

What can hold this struggling family together? Well their faith that is. You see the family practices Kaballah, a Jewish mysticism that looks at esoteric knowledge concerning God, God’s creation of the universe and the laws of nature.

Saul teaches his daughter about the mysticism and the power that Kaballah holds and through his teachings he hopes she will succeed even more as a speller.

The film Bee Season is solely about spreading the word of yet another “hip” Hollywood religion. I don’t claim to be an expert or a believer but I know when I am being preached to.

The film is an overly sappy family melo-drama that shows that a family can stick together if they believe. Basically what it comes down to is that Bee Season is an “after-school special” about Kaballah.

I can’t say I enjoyed any of the performances except maybe Flora Cross who seems to be acting with her heart and seems the most genuine on screen. Binoche is utterly wasted as the wreck of a mother and seems to be there more for Gere than the audience.

Then there is the man himself, Richard Gere. The man, the mission and the mallet slamming into an unsuspecting audience member’s head. You would think after he did his “advocate” speeches at the Oscars that this man would have learned that we are here to be entertained not preached to. If you want to be preachy, be subtle, be clever and let us make up our own minds.

I really feel sorry for the average movie-goer who wanders into a screening of this “preach-a-thon”.

(1 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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