Friday, September 6, 2013
Review: The Butler
A Well-Done Presidential Piece But From A Different P.O.V.
In the many movies dealing with U.S. presidents over the years, they usually deal with one historical event that the president experienced or from the point of view of their secret service agents and whatnot, but The Butler showcases the story of a member of the help who served the White House, and tells the film from his point of view.
The Butler is based on a true story about a man named Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) who served the White House during eight presidencies, from Dwight Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan. Over the course of working at the White House, his wife Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) tries to deal with him not being home as much and Cecil witnesses changes in his son (David Oyelowo) who tries to fight against his own country.
What I Liked About It:
One thing that I really liked was the acting from the large ensemble of the cast. Forest Whitaker does a solid job as Cecil, a man who experienced many historical events and even the cruelness of racism. But one actor that I'd really like to talk about is David Oyelowo, who plays Cecil's son Louis, who, after experiencing cruelty from racist white folks, decides to become a freedom fighter and turn against his own country. Oyelowo is outstanding in this film, and I can only hope that his future is bright after this movie. Out of all the different presidential segments, I would say my favorites were the ones with JFK, who is played by James Marsden, and Lyndon Johnson, played by Liev Schreiber. The one with JFK was touching because Marsden does a great job at making the audience really care for JFK before his (*Spoiler Alert*) assassination, and I liked the Lyndon Johnson segment because Schreiber was hilarious and brings much-needed comic relief to the film.
Another thing that I liked was the direction from Lee Daniels. I have seen one of his earlier movies, Precious, which I thought was outstanding even though it's not "precious" to watch, and he does another amazing job with this movie. In fact, one of my favorite scenes in the film is the sit-in protest done by Louis and his classmates, which actually happened in real life, and I liked the way Daniels directed it.
What I Didn't Like About It:
This isn't necessarily something that I didn't like, but there were points in the film that reminded me of Forrest Gump, which similarly involves an ordinary man who witnesses and influences many historical events, but other than that, there's nothing else I hate about it and the Forrest Gump reminders definitely don't take anything away from the film or the superb direction of Lee Daniels.
Overall, The Butler is a well-done, well-made historical piece that features stellar performances from the cast. It's touching, funny, dramatic, and even harsh to watch at times because of how it deals with racism. This movie is getting plenty of Oscar talk and I certainly hope to see the film's name announced on nomination day.