The Secret Life Of Bees review

An unusual title doesn't make it a winner

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Sixties pre-teen Lily (a maturing Dakota Fanning) accidentally shoots her Ma as a child, leaving her with a cruel Southern Pa (a not-that-menacing Paul Bettany) and an aw-shucks voiceover.

She runs away with her cook (Jennifer Hudson, wasted), finding solace with the black, bee-keeping Boatman sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo): a trio of wise, sassy and virtuous gals who speak in inspirational fridge-magnet slogans and live in a quaint gingerbread-like house bursting with warm fuzzies.

Can Lily find the love and acceptance she craves? Um, bear. Woods. You know?

Triple-dipped in honey by Love & Basketball director Gina Prince-Bythewood, this predictable parable is based, naturally, on a bestselling novel (here courtesy of Sue Monk Kidd).

It’ll be way too cloying for most – but the, ahem, bee’s knees for sugar fiends. Probably best enjoyed with a glass of Chardonnay and your cynicism on hold.

Jane Crowther

The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, News Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Emily Murray. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.