Saturday, 12 April 2014

“The Butler”

delivers with class and historical clarity

 Reviewed by Nancy Snipper

Directed by Lee Daniels’ this biopic is one of the best films to chart the ruin and rise of Black Americans in the 20th-century, as seen in the family of Cecil Gaines. After losing his father in the cotton fields to a gunshot fired by one of the owners’ sons, the young Gaines flees to the north and becomes a butler – to seven presidents, starting with Eisenhower all the way to Reagan. His son Lewis becomes a freedom fighter, and even joins the Black Panthers, but leaves them. He tries to reunite with his father, but is rejected. Gaines’ life had its share of sorrow, including the loss of his dearest son, Charles - killed in the Vietnam war.

The great acting by Forest Whitaker as Gaines is matched by all those who played the various presidents. Oprah Winfrey did a superb job playing his wife, and in all, the ensemble cast made the movie authentic and compelling. The editing was superb. In particular the juxtaposition of  scenes where black butlers are serving white folks in the White house while young blacks  are “illegally” sitting in the reserved  section for whites in a diner  is just one instance of salient contrasts that dramatically illustrate the terrible injustice that Blacks suffered in their journey towards the enjoyment of daily freedoms. Inspired by a true story, this film makes one marvel at the courage and stalwartness of all black butlers who endured using self-discipline, great discretion and tolerance. A must-see!

(This film was viewed, compliments of Le SuperClub Videotron, 5000, rue Wellington, in Verdun,  Quebec.)
(Ce film a été visionné, avec les compliments de Le SuperClub Videotron, 5000, rue Wellington, à Verdun, Québec.)