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BEE SEASON: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Saul Naumann (Richard Gere) is a religious studies professor, living in suburban Oakland with his wife Miriam (Juliette Binoche), daughter Eliza (Flora Cross) and her older brother Aaron (Max Minghella). Saul sees something mystical in 9-year old Eliza's gift for accurately spelling words, as she progresses upwards towards the national spelling bee championships in Washington. But both Miriam and Aaron are increasingly isolated from the family unit, each for their own reasons, and Eliza's triumphant march to spelling victory is marred by the implosion of the family.

Review by Louise Keller:
The themes of Bee Season are as intricate and complex as letters of the alphabet and the words used for communication. This powerful multifaceted drama takes us into the intimate workings of a family and the tenuous, delicate threads that keep it together. Although Richard Gere never quite convinces as the controlling religious studies professor, it's a powerful and intriguing film with characters that are as detached from each other as they are different. The emotional crescendo twists its knife callously as everyone's worlds crumble. And while the film takes us to places we don't expect to go, there are some obvious difficulties with the adaptation of Myla Goldberg's novel to the screen. Thoughts and moods don't always translate between mediums.

At first glance, Gere's Saul is the ideal husband and father. He cooks and takes a keen interest in his children's pursuits. There are violin-cello duets with his teenage son Aaron (Max Minghella) and now that Amy (Flora Cross) is making a name for herself in the local, district and state spelling bees, he rearranges his schedule so he can tutor her himself. But we soon realise the full extent of his controlling nature and life is every bit as multi-faceted as the kaleidoscope that Juliette Binoche's sad-eyed Miriam gives to her young daughter. Aaron is the only one with insight and finds solace with Kate Bosworth's Hare Krishna follower Chale. When Saul and Miriam realise that Amy's abilities stem from her gift of naturally visualising letters and words, they each have a different response. Saul is intent to use Amy in his pursuit of a higher state of spiritual being, while Miriam physically and emotionally withdraws totally.

Cross and Minghella (son of Oscar winning director Anthony) are impressive in their first major film roles, and Binoche allows us to feel the pain of Miriam's torment. The Spelling Bee to which the title refers, becomes the catalyst for both the family's breakdown and salvation. Ironically and touchingly, it's the nurtured who become the nurturers.

There's a director's commentary, deleted scenes and two featurettes on the DVD.

Published March 29, 2006



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BEE SEASON: DVD (M)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche, Flora Cross, Max Minghella, Kate Bosworth

PRODUCER: Albert Berger, Dr. Winfried Hammacher, Ron Yerxa

DIRECTOR: Scott McGehee, David Siegel

SCRIPT: Naomi Foner (novel by Myla Goldberg)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Giles Nuttgens

EDITOR: Lauren Zuckerman

MUSIC: Peter Nashel

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kelly McGehee

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 17, 2005

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Director's commentary, deleted scenes, 2 featurettes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: March 29, 2006







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