Starring: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey
Directed by: Lee Daniels
Written By: Danny Strong
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 2 hr 6 min
Unfortunately what you take away from Lee Daniels’ The butler depends on which side of the political spectrum you fall on. If you’re on the more liberal side, this film will likely be a triumph. More conservative, and this will be one of those liberal Hollywood hit jobs you’ve been telling people about. I guess it would be difficult to tell a story about Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), who spent most of his life serving various presidents during the civil rights movement and beyond without some side taking. But this film doesn’t seem to want to hide its agenda. Why else would you cast Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan? Political preaching aside, when the film keeps its focus on the troubled relationship Cecil has with his son Louis (David Oyelowo), it tells a compelling story that’s worth watching. The film however doesn’t respect the audience’s intelligence. The constant narration by the elder Cecil just gets annoying and is completely unnecessary.
In addition to telling a compelling story about a father and son during some tumultuous moments in American History, the film also takes sides politically. Depending on where your views fall, you are either going to love this or hate it.
Best viewing format:
It’s a well made and well shot film. A matinee showing will work. If you miss this at the theater, a nice HD viewing at home will work.
Best moment for me: << very mild spoiler >>
Louis is spending time with Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. King explains how Cecil’s role as a hard working trust worthy colored man in a prominent job was just as important to the civil rights movement as protesting in the streets. It makes Louis view his father in a different light, and it’s just a really nice scene.