I saw Lee Daniel’s The Butler last night and I encourage you to go and see it too. For those reading me outside of the USA where it just opened , The Butler is based losely on the life of Eugene Allen ,who worked as a butler at the White House during eight presidential terms from 1952 to 1986.
More than just a biography , it is a film about civil rights in America seen through the eyes of the main character and covers many key moments of American history that took place during the terms of the 8 presidents he worked for : the Nashville sit-ins, the Freedom Riders, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panther Party, the Vietnam War, the Nixon Resignation, the Free South Africa Movement, and Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
It is a pity that,probably for lack of time, many of these events could not be treated in greater depth in the film , and some of the cameos playing the presidents were a bit strange, but everything else is so good that you don’t dwell on those glitches too long
There are many layers to this film and you will find yourself thinking about it for a long time afterwards. There is something very subversive in the way Cecil the butler deals with the racial issues he is witnessing all day long at every level, at the White House and at home : by being invisible and by wearing a mask , but you feel that he knows no other way because of the way he was brought up as a child , he is therefore sincere in his denial and his convictions, even when he clashes time and time again with his rebellious son.
There is a beautiful scene at the end of the movie that becomes the turning point in his life . I will not spoil it for you but as I said before , in this film there are no obvious good and bad guys , only good or evil actions and decisions in the name of whole generations and nations.
this is the trailer
Do not miss it, I feel Oscars in the air….Forrest Whitaker is a god , the words that come to mind when describing his performance are dignity and restraint, since he spends most of the film as a witness to these horrific events it is through his silences and unflinching gaze that we feel the torture he must be living , Oprah Winfrey is also superb , “less is more ” : a whole generation of young Hollywood actors should take notes of these performances , and of course director Lee Daniels will probably get an Oscar too……I am ready to bet on this.
Oh and bring a box of Kleenex.