Bee Season (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/10/2005

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Intense family drama that starts well and has good performances but ultimately gets bogged down in spiritual/mystical mumbo-jumbo and bungles its emotional climax.

The Background
Newcomer Flora Cross stars as 12 year old Eliza Naumann, whose father, religious studies professor Saul (Richard Gere), has always ignored her in favour of her talented older brother Aaron (Max Minghella). That is until she wins her school Spelling Bee, prompting her father to switch his attentions to her for the first time, in the hopes of training her to win the National Spelling Bee.

The Story
Saul believes that Eliza has tapped into a type of divine inspiration. He takes it upon himself to teach her all about the arcane, mystical practices of Kaballah, believing that she is close to being able to personally receive God’s voice. Meanwhile, Saul’s obsessive schooling of Eliza causes his emotionally fragile wife Miriam (Juliette Binoche) to start behaving very strangely indeed.

At the same time, Aaron rebels against the withdrawal of his father’s affections by experimenting with alternate religions, through a chance meeting with a beautiful Hare Krishna (Kate Bosworth).

The Bad
Although the film starts well and looks gorgeous, it gets seriously bogged down towards the end when it starts to resemble a Kaballah infomercial. Similarly, it’s frustrating that a script that’s so carefully structured (early scenes might as well come with subtitles saying This Will Be Important Later) fails to adequately pay off its emotional climax. Whilst you will understand why the events occur what is less obvious is the effect they are supposed to have.

The Good
That said, the performances are extremely good, particularly Flora Cross whose resemblance to Juliette Binoche is extraordinary. It’s also worth seeing for the genuine creepiness of Hare Krishna Bosworth.

The Conclusion
In short, Bee Season is a watchable but ultimately frustrating and disappointing experience. Although, if you’re a Kaballah devotee, there’s a good chance you’ll think this is the greatest movie ever made.

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Bee Season (12A)
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Content updated: 20/10/2017 11:47

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