#Film: Breaking Down ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’

Drama / August 16, 2013

The Butler

The Who

Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Terrance Howard, John Cusack, James Marsden

The What

Lee Daniels’ tale of Cecil Gaines, a top form butler serving in the white house through five different presidencies, and his balancing of family and subservience during the civil rights movement.

The Big Deal

If nothing else, I respect Lee Daniels’ ambition. The tale of a black child, who is born into slavery and scarred by witnessing the violation of his mother and the murder of his father by a slave master, and his experiences serving for white Americans and remaining docile throughout the entire civil rights movement while dealing with a bitter family would’ve been an interesting enough story. But instead the film aims to be more expansive by chronicling the entire civil rights in two hours through montages of inspiration-speak and quick flash-in-the-pan “hey, remember this” moments.

The film is well-acted for the most part and its biggest triumphs comes when it tackles the spectrum of blackness in a harsh world and a family being driven apart by one man’s job of servitude, a son’s need to combat what the country is doing to people who look like him and a wife’s depression as both men slip from her grasp.

It’s when the film tries to be a high school history class that it falls short. Not to say that the history isn’t important to remind people of; it’s just that there is a more comprehensive and coherent way to do it in a movie without turning it into “Forrest Gump.”

Grade: B


The Butler opens today in theaters everywhere.

Tickets & Showtimes | Movie Trailer | Official Website


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Israel Daramola
Israel Daramola is a writer, video editor and cake enthusiast living in Washington, D.C. You can follow him on twitter or you can go to your mirror, turn off the lights and chant his name three times and he will appear.

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#Film: Breaking Down 'Lee Daniels' The Butler'