Let's preface this Review with a quote from my wife, Dominique: "I thought this movie was very pleasant." (The French have a way of distilling everything-imaginable down to One Sentence, &..I agree with her.)

I often wondered what Dakota Fanning would do when she outgrew the wonderfully-sweet kid roles of her Younger Years. (Her 2007 film, "Hounddog", screened at Sundance 2007 Film Festival, elicited audible Boos, got it's female director Death Threats, got the nickname "The Dakota Fanning Rape Movie" and a re-cut Second Version was just yanked by AMC from the mere 11 theaters it was showing in this month..for a mere week..due to Organized Outcry.)

Here, she's again playing a Victim..age 14 (vs 9 in the other flick) & also set in The South.. Here it's 1964, and the Civil Rights Act HAS passed..but the Locals ignore it. Lilly Owens (Fanning) lives with an abusive, all-controlling father (Well-Done by Paul Bettany). She's trying to come to terms with her accidental-killing of her Mom when Lilly tried to help break up a brutal parental argument. A Civil Rights incident sees her running away with her Dad's black housekeeper, (Jennifer Hudson, as Rosalen Daise) and together they find refuge several small cities-away, in the brightly-colored house of very-successful Local Beekeeper August Boatright (Well-Played by Queen Latifa).

Boatright buys into Lilly's improvised story, & lets the pair of fugitives stay with her & her 2 sisters, the at-first-skeptical NAACP Activist June Boatright (Alicia Keys) and the very-emotional Boatright, May. May's VERY-emotional after losing another Monthly-Named Twin..APRIL..a while back. (GREAT Character Acting by these gals...& you'll get a kick out of June's "Wailing Wall" in the Backyard.)

Most of this movie's a Coming-of-Age Flick..& Fanning handles it well, even down to a "creep-tastic" scene (Harmlessly) licking honey from a slightly-older black fellow-beekeeper's finger (sympathetically-played by Tristan Wilde, as Zach Taylor)..leading to love & a frightening racial incident.

Queen Latifa sparkles as a fine "Earth Mother" through all the Drama..& Fanning's frankly delightful as a strong survivor making the best of a pretty bum 1960's Deep-South Childhood. Even the critic who coined "creeptastic" (I've swiped, above) stated "she's growing into an impressive teenage actress."

So..see it & enjoy. You'll at least learn a LOT about Beekeeping as-well! The Warm-Glow lasts a long time after ya leave the theater.

"7 1/2-outta-10"..maybe an "8" if ya can get past quotes from Spike Lee about "Magic Negroes to The Rescue"... "Hats-Off" to Director Gina Prince Bythewood for her adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd's novel. (& a Consolation-Hug to Director-Writer Deborah Kampmeier who spent 12 years getting her Vision onto the Big Screen, only to have a (I've heard "tasteful") Rape Scene's 20-30 seconds shelve a lot of Work & Investment.)


Big Hugs,