Lee Daniels’ The Butler-2013
Starring-Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey
Scott’s Review #81
Reviewed June 30, 2014
Director, Lee Daniels, is a recent favorite of mine (Precious, The Paperboy) and his latest is an excellent, true story, undertaking. While the trailer looked appealing, I was concerned that the film might be overwrought or have a Hollywood sappiness to it. While it’s certainly a Hollywood film, it is a powerful, emotional experience.
The viewer is taken on a journey from 1926 through the current presidency from the viewpoint of White House butler Cecil Gaines, who serves several presidents and is privy to the goings on in the White House. He is played by Forest Whitaker and his boozy, troubled wife is played by Oprah Winfrey. Both give tremendous performances. It is a political travel through time and I loved the authenticity of each decade from the sets to the costumes to the hairstyles. The casting of the Presidents is curious (Robin Williams as Eisenhower and John Cusack as Nixon), but somehow worked. The rivalry of Cecil Gaines and his rebellious son is quite interesting as the viewer sides with each individual at different time.
The film is more emotional than I anticipated and much of the audience was teary during certain scenes of heartbreak and triumph. I feel this is a must see for everyone. Well done.