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Bee Season
DVD disk
Apr 4, 2006 By: Sturdy
Bee Season order
Director:
Scott McGehee

Actors:
Richard Gere
Juliette Binoche
Flora Cross

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Four members of a Jewish family experience spiritual revelations as the daughter competes in a series of spelling bees.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
This film is another of those movies that differs so completely from its marketing campaign that you wonder if the advertisers even saw the movie. You might go into this thinking its going to be like SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISHER, but with spelling instead of chess. You couldnt be more wrong. The spelling bees play just a small part in a movie that deals more with a familys struggle to find meaning and religion in an attempt to get closer to God.

If it sounds confusing, its because it is. The film is very convoluted with mixed messages and religious ideas and theories that are never fully explored. Also, the characters get from A to b to C in lightening speed. The audience never has a chance to get emotionally involved in any of the four family members and therefore were left confused at the end of the film as to what, if anything the movie accomplished.

The performances were on par from what you expect from the likes of Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche. They always do their roles justice, even if I dont always like the roles they choose. But take a good look at Flora Cross smiling on the cover because thats the only time youll see her exert any facial expression in the film. The most confusing character was in fact Juliette Binoches because I never understood why she ended up in the situation and state she ended up in.

Although the movie deals with religion, it isnt preachy by any means, but religion was crammed down our throats. There was an underlying metaphor of religion to spelling that was pampered throughout the film but it just plain didnt work. I was happy the film didnt push any one particular religion, but then again, it didnt really take the time to focus on any one belief. The film tried to say too much and in the end, didnt say anything at all.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by Scott McGehee and David Siegel: The directors give you some explanations on why they shot the film the way they did. It doesnt offer anything too insightful, and it suffers from long pauses. There was a serious lack of enthusiasm from these two and I was disappointed in it.

Commentary by Albert Berger and Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal: Ms. Gyllenhaal nailed it right on the head in this commentary when she talked about how difficult it was to balance so many spiritual journeys in one film. Personally, after hearing her talk, I think she should have directed the film because I can tell she read the book. Overall, this commentary is really good and is enjoyable if you liked the film or not.

Deleted Scenes (6:25): The movie was a little slow to begin with and many of these scenes served no purpose. I was also frustrated because many of these deleted scenes were one or two lines cut out from scenes from the movie.

Making of Bee Season (5:30): This is a featurette on what the actors thought about the movie. Its better than your standard fluff piece, but not by much. What you need to know is that Richard Gere learned how to play the violin for the role and that Max Minghella has a very thick British accent that he curbed for the movie.

The Cutting Room Floor (3:44): This is a simple montage of deleted moments from the film. I typically like these montages and its a nice way of including stuff that isnt long enough to be considered a full scene. If you look closely, you can actually see Flora Cross smile.

The Essence of Bee Season (6:24): We get some professors talking about the deeper meaning of BEE SEASON. I question whether theyre talking about the movie or the book. They explain it well enough, but I didnt see what theyre talking about in the film. This could help you if you were confused with the movie.

There are also some Trailers.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
BEE SEASON suffered mightily from a bad marketing campaign, but Im not sure if they couldve done any better selling it for what it really was. I found the film to be a congestion of mixed messages and ideas that were never explored properly. However, with a generous supply of extras, you might be able to piece it together yourself.
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