Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lee Daniel's 'The Butler' reviews the Black American history

Lee Daniel's 'The Butler' sounded like an underdog story, with a black American getting a job as a butler at the white house. But, 'The Butler' is not an underdog story. It is a recap of the vast atrocities faced by the blacks in America in the last century, seen through the eye of a scared and non-participative butler in the country's biggest institution.

Based on real events, 'the Butler' is about Cecil Gaines, who was born amidst chaos where the blacks could be shot at for no reason at all. He grows up to be a house keeper with the help of a few good people and serves the white. He becomes quite popular and soon is invited to the white house to serve the President. From here he watches the world change. He watches the leaders make big decisions. He sees the revolution the blacks bring about and the change of hearts. He serves various President's until he could take no more.

Forest Whitaker is a mature actor and his performance of the butler from a youth to the aged, through various stages in the life of the butler, and the various phase of change in American history is sensitive and subtle. His portrayal of an over-protective dad, and a scared citizen is one of the best this year.

Oprah Winfrey, as the lonely wife who felt abandoned by her husband to his work, plays a strong mother and a dejected character. Oyelowe as the son, who is rebellious towards the father, and against a nation supporting injustice is a performance to watch out for. I would have had him on the top of the support cast list. Then there is a long line up of actors who come as the Presidents of America in Cecil's service period. Robin Williams, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber and James Marsden. I loved James as Kennedy.

The movie is significant in the sense that it takes a non-participative black, and most of the times works with a script where in the character is a silent watcher. He is a person subjected to the horrors of not being to have a say,even in his own life; And he has accepted his fate and wants these horrible things to be absent in his children's life. But his over protective gestures don't help his children who rebel and go out. He never really takes part in the revolution but becomes a great force nevertheless.

Lee Daniel has shown this change through the last century towards black in a seemingly distant and apparently harmless manner, but says a lot even then. It pains your heart, but still reminds you that you were not there. You are just a silent watcher. You do nothing to change the atrocious attitudes in your society.

A good reason to expect this movie at the Oscars, for performances and script.

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