Blows my mind why the directors name is in the title of the movie. To me, the name of the movie is “The Butler” and that is how I’m going to refer to it.
So why has it taken me 10 days to write this review about a movie I was dying to see...
don’t know. Yes I really, really liked this movie, but it just didn’t get “inside me” like I really wanted it too. This is my kind of movie focusing on a true story, underdogs, minorities utter perseverance and more.
The accurate newsreel scenes spliced into this film focusing on the utter mind-boggling hatred that existed in my early life time were so impacful. This story of the real life Mr. Cecil Gaines (and he deserves to be called Mr. Gaines) played to perfection by the great Forrest Whitaker (and he deserves to be called Mr. Whitaker) in an incredible journey.
One days horror in the cotton fields seeing is Dad executed in cold blood and Mom savagely raped & scarred by one of the Plantation owners/kids caused Mr. Gaines to grow up almost immediately.
And his journey from the cotton fields to the White House were both near historic. He kept his eye on the ball and tried to make sure in all aspects and family in his life had the same mantra. He need to survive in that often racist white man’s world, he had to play the game to protect his family while providing them with a solid middle class upbringing.
Oprah Winfrey plays Mrs. Gaines and her character development in this film was amazing.
At the beginning of the film, she was very unlikable smoking, drinking, overly verbal and some fooling around adultery, the result feeling sorry for herself and loneliness due the huge number of hours Mr. Gaines worked.
Some of her “spirit” and outspokenness led their eldest son to a life of protest, spirited confrontation etc. who was most impressive (he deserves a movie of his life as well)
There were so many stars in this movie that had very small but important roles like Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Live Shreiber, Alan Rickman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jane Fonda, Lenny Kravitz and Minka Kelly.
Again the newsreel interplay was terrific (like in “42”) and really hammered home some critical realities of the day. What a journey, what a life. And the timing of this film with the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is fabulous, educational and reinforcing that we still have a long way to go.
Shameful in only 2 areas for this film. First, the earlier mention of the director putting his name in the title...just not right in my opinion (I’m sure there is a reason) and second, at the end of the film there was no “update” of where is Mr. Gaines (is he alive or when did he pass or where is he buried). Nor any mention of his sons and their life journey. Maybe update the audience on the integration of the White House wait staff. Would have loved to have heard President Obama’s comments on his meeting with Mr. Gaines.
Excellent film...not quite “Lincoln” in terms of getting deep inside me, but really, really good.