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Running Time:
1 hour, 44 minutes

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for thematic elements, a scene of sensuality and brief strong language.

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
Intriguing and original, but probably too cryptic and mystical for most audiences.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: Audio commentary by directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel; Audio commentary by producer Albert Berger and screenwriter Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal; Six deleted scenes with optional commentary; Making-of featurette; "The Cutting Room Floor" featurette; "The Essence of Bee Season" featurette; Original theatrical trailer.

Bee Season
The Naumann family of four includes Saul (Richard Gere), who's obsessed with Jewish mysticism, his wife Miriam (Juliette Binoche), still traumatised after losing her parents in a car crash, 12-year-old Eliza (Flora Cross), a spelling expert who has finally grabbed the attention of her preoccupied parents from her brother Aaron (Max Minghella). Eliza wins the district, regional and state spelling bees taking the spotlight off her older brother who's busy with a beautiful stranger (Kate Bosworth). The film is completely obsessed with letters and words. Its central subjects are Kaballah, Krishna, Catholicism and Kleptomania. Each of the characters has some sort of fixation as they go about trying to find some meaning in their lives. As it becomes apparent that Eliza has tapped into some kind of divine inspiration, Saul is both hugely proud and uncontrollably jealous, because that's what he hoped to achieve for himself. There are moments when we wonder about the sanity of all four members of this spiritually needy family. In fact, the film's weakest aspect is the fact that each of them is so odd. On the other hand, this introspection is also the film's most original idea. The directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End) have elegantly and inventively made a film that gets inside the characters allowing us to see what makes them tick. And the cast all deliver intriguing performances that we can identify with. It's only when they start going on and on about how God speaks through words and letters that the film starts feeling like a silly religious thriller or an induction to Kaballah. Fortunately, the writer (Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal) and the directors have a strong sense of character and story, introducing us into a world of highly educated, middle-class people who hang out at libraries and practice their violins together. The film has a witty, playfulness that keeps it from being predictable, but while it looks and feels lovely, we can never quite be sure what it all means.

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