Lee Daniels’ The Butler

*Award Season pick*  I recently saw The Butler this past weekend and I got to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Besides the fact that there were a few aspects of the film I wasn’t a huge fan of, I gotta recommend this movie. Like a time warp through history, The Butler tells a fantastic story based on the life of Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House for 34 years, though I did hear about the many differences between the subject’s life and the movie.

The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels, tells the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) , an African-American man who eye-witnesses major events in the 20th century throughout the timeline of the eight presidents he served in his 34 year tenure as a White House butler. Also starring Oprah Winfrey and a huge ensemble cast who make up the White House staff and presidents.

I honestly didn’t know that the film had such a great ensemble cast. Throughout each new term, I was always surprised to see who would be playing the next president or first lady. I gotta say that I thought all the actor’s who played the presidents were great.  Nice to see Robin Williams back on the screen as Eisenhower and I liked James Marsden as Kennedy. Now onto the main cast. Forest Whitaker was amazing. I’d definitely count on him bagging an Oscar nomination.  You learn to love and admire his character so much and his aging process was well done. I was a bit hesitant about Oprah’s role at first. Maybe because she’s done the talk-show gig for so many years that it was hard for me to appreciate her as an actor but she was fantastic!  Like Whitaker, her aging process was performed well and she blasted all fragments out of my mind that she was still tv Oprah.

My sister brought up a good point about the movie that I wasn’t a big fan of either. Though I love how the film goes through history and covers notable events, there were way too many ups and downs. The plot structure was like a roller coaster.  Frequently, a happy scene would be ruined with a some new tragedy. However, I thought the writing was good because there were very raw and real scenes that were palpable with emotion and heart-warming affection. Cecil’s story was awe-inspiring and very inspirational to see him undergo so many hardships. Surprisingly, the film follows Cecil’s son throughout his life almost as much as Cecil himself. This I thought provided a nice juxtaposition with the father serving men and the son fighting men and being active in the Civil Rights Movement. It was interesting to see the characters’ appearance and costumes change with the time period too.  The film had bits of comedy here and there, which was refreshing but again soon stepped on by more drama.  The length was another thing that I really had a problem with it. Though it is going through a long historical frame, I felt it went on a bit too long.

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Finally, I didn’t expect the movie to go all the way to Obama’s nomination either. I thought it would end soon after his retirement in Reagan’s term but it came all the way to present day.  Though I did love the ending tremendously!! I would recommend The Butler, though as a precaution keep in mind that it does use the N-word at times . Other than that, it’s a great film!

ALL IN ALL: Lee Daniels’ The Butler is an uplifting film that tells an amazing story with great performances from an ensemble cast.

Rated PG-13, 132 minutes

image from: http://www.cinemablend.com/images/news_img/38813/Lee_Daniels_The_Butler_38813.jpg

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