Newest Review: ... merely wanting his offspring to be happy and follow their own chosen paths. The film takes on a more mystical quality, when it becomes app... more
One messed-up family!
Bee Season (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
Bee Season (DVD)
Advantages: Well-acted, interesting idea
Disadvantages: The film drags, the mystical aspect, slow, dour and boring!
RELEASED: 2005, Cert. 12
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 105 mins
DIRECTORS: Scott McGehee & David Siegel
PRODUCERS: Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa
SCREENPLAY: Naomi Foner
MUSIC: Peter Nashel
Richard Gere as Saul
Flora Cross as Eliza
Juliette Binoche as Miriam
Max Minghella as Aaron
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Saul is deeply hooked into the mystic aspects of the Jewish faith and his teenage son Aaron feels spiritually empty. Miriam, Saul's wife, is living on her nerves and appears to be depressed, her mind constantly being tortured by flashback memories of when her parents were killed in a car crash. Little Eliza is brilliant at spelling, and Saul pushes her forward into winning Spelling Bees once he finds out that is her forte.
Although Aaron has a good relationship with his little sister Eliza, he feels pushed to the edge of the family as Saul almost totally focuses his attention on drawing out the little girl's talent. Miriam watches on, concerned, but appears unable to do anything about what is becoming an increasingly imbalanced lifestyle within the family.
Early on in the film, it is quite apparent that Saul is more interested in his children's talents (Aaron studies music, capably playing a variety of instruments) from the point of view of the limelight falling onto him as a father, as opposed to merely wanting his offspring to be happy and follow their own chosen paths.
The film takes on a more mystical quality, when it becomes apparent that Eliza 'sees' the right spellings for the words she is given in the Spelling Bee contests, through closing her eyes and focusing on internal illusions which seem to magically present her with the correct letters in the correct order.
When Aaron meets a girl who introduces him to a Hare Krishna commune, things get very difficult between him and Saul, his disapproving father.
Meanwhile, Miriam's state of mind rapidly deteriorates.
I somewhat whimsically chose to watch Bee Season because of it being about spelling, as that was my own very best subject at primary school. I was anticipating it perhaps being a fairly light-hearted film, maybe even a comedy, but I couldn't have been more wrong.
The acting is very good throughout by all of the main characters...I'd even go as far as to say faultless, and the screenplay is well-written, but other aspects of the film didn't hit home for me hardly at all.
I found the music to be rather wishy-washy, it mainly being a light orchestral score which is very typical of what usually accompanies mawkish, slush-bucket type productions. However, Bee Season isn't really that kind of film. OK, it is about a family in crisis and the mis-handling of a little girl's talent, but it isn't presented in a sentimental fashion, which for me I suppose is a bonus.
I do feel that the mystical elements were both poorly handled (from the aspect of special effects) and unnecessary, they injecting a lack of realism into a film which really needs to keep both its feet on terra firma in order to be of consistent interest to the viewer. Other parts of Bee Season I found to be bitty, lacking proper follow-through, and although the character development is reasonably strong, the storyline just plunges straight into this section of a family's life, with no preamble or build-up, so all we get to see of the characters is how they are in the 'now', not being shown what led up to anything or whether once they did relate to each another more effectively.
It struck me how difficult this family seems to find the showing and expressing of affection towards one another. There are a couple of scenes where a spark of humanity glimmers through when the chips are close to the ground, but overall I couldn't pick up on any particular sense of cohesiveness between the family members. Maybe the storyline is created that way deliberately, but it isn't easy to watch, as this almost emotionally 'dead' family comes across as tedious and characterless, adding to the boredom factor already present in huge chunks of the film, to the point where I found the whole thing quite depressing, but not in an interesting or a 'grabbing' way.
On a lighter note for a moment, I was interested to observe how closely the ageing Richard Gere resembles the late, great Irish comedian Dave Allen!
In summary, I did find Bee Season quite dull as it limped along without sparkle or anything which particularly drew me into the storyline. The best part definitely is the acting, but a cast like this shines much better playing other roles in other productions. It is a shame because the actual concept of the storyline is quite good, but in this instance I feel it to have been mis-handled to the point where I found myself yawning more than is acceptable as I struggled to give the film my full attention. I have seen other heavy-duty dramas of this nature that I've been totally engrossed in and thoroughly enjoyed, so it definitely isn't the seriousness of Bee Season which is problematic for me. It just didn't hit my spot.
At the time of writing, Bee Season can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £1.24 to £27.57
Used: from 48p to £4.50
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: Exceedingly average...could be much better!