Directed by: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Written by:Naomi Foner
Starring: Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche, Flora Cross, Max Minghella, Kate Bosworth
Released: November 17, 2005
Grade: C+

A religious father who is out of touch with his family.  A depressed mother with a secret she will not share.  A confused son in search of something to believe in.  A quiet daughter with a talent waiting to be discovered.  We see these four people under a very close microscope in Bee Season.  It may have the credentials on paper but unfortunately, this film is confusing, annoying and disappointing.

Why is it confusing?  The film has a very strong religious focus and I really don’t understand the point to it all.  People are questioning their faith but so what?  What am I supposed to take away from this?  There’s a scene late in the film where the daughter has an epileptic-like fit on reading an ancient religious document.  It came completely out of left field and I found it more humorous than serious.

Why is it annoying?  The film sees the daughter battle through the heats and make it to the national finals of the spelling bee championship.  She’s a gifted speller but the competitions are boring and the ending to the final is pathetic.  Why would she be given such an easy word?  Spelling bees should be exciting and suspenseful and if you want proof, check out the documentary Spellbound (which was my 3rd favourite film of 2003).

Why is it disappointing?  The film is based on a novel (written by Myla Goldberg) and with a strong cast, I was expecting a strong drama.  There is a great debut performance from youngster Flora Cross and I loved the confidence she shows when adjusting the microphone on the podium during the competitions.  Aside from Ms Cross however, I have very little to rave about.  Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche are trying too hard and the continually changing storylines prevents us from really getting to know these characters.

A bee minus seems an appropriate grade given the title but that would be too generous.  A C+ it is.