The Weinstein Company.
Running Time: 132 Minutes.
3 and a half stars out of 4.
Lee Daniel's The Butler or The Butler, follows the life of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) a former slave who worked on a Cotton Plantation. Cecil becomes the first African American butler to work in the White House, and serves eight presidents during his 50+ year tenure as White House butler. The film also chronicles the life of his alcohol and drug addicted wife Gloria (Oprah Winfrey), and two sons Louis Gaines (David Oyelowo) an active member of the Black Panther Party, and David Banner (Elijah Kelly) the youngest member of the Gaines family. Lee Daniel's The Butler, is a well written, incredibly well acted and directed masterpiece.
Going into Lee Daniel's The Butler, I was skeptical because the trailers were awful, and looked like the film would be a long history lesson. Also, I was unsure how director Lee Daniels would incorporate the huge ensemble into the film. I was very wrong, because the final film is not a history lesson, and is an interesting look at how the United States evolved over the 50+ years that Cecil worked at the White House.
The ensemble brought together in this film is great. Forest Whitaker gives the best performance in the film, and the best performance of his career, and disappears into the character. Oprah Winfrey is also surprisingly great, and you forget you are watching Oprah the talk show host. Oprah is given great material, dominates all the scenes she is in, and has good chemistry with Whitaker. David Oyelowo leads a stellar supporting ensemble consisting of actors such as, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams, James Marsden, Mariah Carey, Terrence Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Cuba Gooding Jr, John Cusack, and Mariah Carey, to name a few. These actors all have limited screen time, but in the few minutes they are on screen they do a good, believable job, at portraying there respected characters. It would be a shame, if Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and the film itself do not get nominated during awards season.
There are some things I did not like in the film, such as, I felt that Lee Daniels tried cramming into much storytelling into the 132 minute running time, and at the times the script became over complex. Also, (spoiler) the last fifteen minutes of the film are spent focusing in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected as President, and to me, this took me out of the film, only because it is so recent, and because the way it is portrayed in the film, comes across as a Vote For Obama TV advertisement.
Lee Daniel's The Butler is one of the best films of the year. It features the best on screen ensemble put together of the year, and features good writing and directing from Danny Strong, and Lee Daniels respectively. The screenplay might have a few problems, but the cast led by Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey carry the film, and make it more than just a history lesson.
Lee Daniels The Butler is a sad, entertaining, and effective film, that is very well done, and features great performances. Despite what may be considered an overlong running time(132 Minutes), this is a great film.