The Butler

2013 At the movies Entertainment October 2013 Suzanne A. Marshall

By Suzanne A. Marshall from the October 2013 Edition

Lee Daniels’

“As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man’s life, family and American society.”

I really loved this picture. I loved the way it looked as if it had been shot on good old 35mm film. It gave a subtle softness and reality to the story. The acting was stellar with Forest Whitaker giving a wonderful performance and Oprah Winfrey proving once again that she really is a good actress. There is a long list of cameo performances from the likes of Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda and on and on.

My research on this movie indicates some controversy surrounding the storyline, its’ reality and its’ accuracy. So some have taken offence to the political portrayal of a couple of the presidents and naturally since the civil rights movement plays out at the heart of the story, it’s obviously still a very sensitive issue, even now.

So it is important that the film is seen as a story, not a docudrama, but a wonderful story of a man who imparts dignity and strength of character in a world that so obviously puts parameters around what he is allowed to accomplish. He is proud, responsible and seems to want to stay away from the nearness of the politics that he observes so closely when serving in the White House. In the early days of his training as a waiter and servant, one of the main lessons emphasized was to achieve ‘invisibility’ while tending to duties.

The servants were present but in a sense no more there than the wallpaper or light fixtures. Not easily done. I don’t believe that any one interpretation of the story in this movie is going to please everyone and obviously must be subject to the preference of a director and his writers.

And of course my own preference for entertainment is a factor. While the film genres of the past few years have been action packed, sci-fi, animation, vampires and cult heroes, this film is of the good old fashioned ilk of times gone by.

And of course I am revealing my somewhat advanced age because this movie might be just a bit too quiet and pensive for the large youthful audiences of today. ‘just sayin’.

IMDB rates this movie at 6.5/10 based on 10,000 viewers. For me and my cronies I would easily give it an 8.5/10 and strongly recommend that other old cronies go and see it. Does this make me biased?

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