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Review of "THE BUTLER"
By Jayne Waterford
Copyrighted © Jayne Waterford, 2013. Written 4th December 2013. First published 4th December 2013. Revised 5th December 2013.
REVIEW: "THE BUTLER" by Jayne Waterford

Lee Daniels' "THE BUTLER" (2013) is an important film following the inspired though fictionalised life of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker). "The film is inspired by Wil Haygood’s 2008 Washington Post article “A Butler Well Served by This Election” which chronicled the real life of former White House butler Eugene Allen." (PNs)

After a rough early life guided by chance, starring the great Mariah Carey as his mother, Gaines becomes an excellent house nigger who is ultimately offered a job at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (The White House). It's this thorough grounding in the life of a black man in the American South during this time and the personal window seat his position as black, White House butler offers us that enthrals.

There is the lovely ebb and flow of a personal, quiet family life, from his personal sphere out to the world stage and back as we track the butler's interactions with neighbours, family and eight presidents. Not only does he work in illustrious circumstances offering us an inside point of view on historical events, like Jackie Kennedy splattered with blood and sitting in a drawing room, or J.F.K.'s dawning realization of racial oppression in the USA, but his radical life experiences

give rise to a son who founds the Black Panthers. Through his point of view and events hidden from him, we gain a filmmakers' perspective on pivotal moments in that organisation’s history. For example, the watershed moment of when terrorist tactics are embraced by the group and rejected by some individuals, the butler's son included.

Such illustrious and important historical subject matter attracted a stellar cast to portray Gaines' life. Terrence Howard plays a blaggard neighbour, Howard. Academy Award®-winner Cuba Goodling Jr. plays a fellow White House butler, Carter Wilson. He's a man who speaks as some men do. People's commitment to this kind of bare-faced role always shocks me.

Oprah Winfrey puts in an Oscar® quality performance as the butler's wife Gloria Gaines. Her performance is only a little undone when she voices threw the fourth wall that she's reaching for her purse. It was like a child putting a pair of frilly undies on a doll in a bride doll competition. We anticipate she is about to fail. I'm not exaggerating when I observe that her screen presence throughout the film is mezmerizing. She works the same magic in the film still across this page.

"THE BUTLER" is played with great gravity, most

obviously in the characteristic weight of Vanessa Redgraves' performance as Annabeth Westfall in the opening scenes. This is a serious history in the solid ownership of its participants.

The story's capacity to shock is also persistent. Gaines' family is living like slaves that can be murdered without reprisal in 1926. Gaines' himself is still pleading for equal wages in the era of Alan Rickman's Reagan. And what a Reagan. Rickman gave me a glimpse of an American perception of President Reagan. All I saw in the day was a studied cowboy.

Forest Whitaker's generosity in a role that necessitates his complicit permission enables these shocks to keep coming. Butler Gaines behaves like all conservatives, making the best of what's available.

I will buy this DVD. 9/10

Copyrighted ©: Jayne Waterford, 2013.

Lee Daniels'
"THE BUTLER" (2013)
ONE QUIET VOICE CAN IGNITE A REVOLUTION
Director Lee Daniels
Producers Lee Daniels, Cassian Elwes, Buddy Patrick, Laura Ziskin
Stars Forest Whittaker, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, John Cusack, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber and Melissa Leo
Release Date 31st October 2013
Category Historical Drama
Running Time 132 minutes (2 hours, 12 minutes)
Rating M
Origin Washington, USA
Awards
Coda

Distributor Hopscotch Films
Official Blurb "For three decades, Cecil Gaines (Academy Award®-winner Forest Whitaker) served as the chief butler for eight consecutive US presidents, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Working intimately
with these world leaders at the White House, from his unique vantage point Cecil Gaines witnessed radical transformations in American history through the civil rights movement to Vietnam and the Cold War - and how those changes affected his life and family. Based on a true story, Lee Daniels (Precious) directs a stellar ensemble cast who between them have garnered 18 Academy Award nominations." - Hopscotch Films PR
Cecil's mother Hattie Pearl (Mariah Carey) in a scene from Lee Daniels' "THE BUTLER"
Anne Marie Fox
© 2013 Butler Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
White House butlers Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker, left), James Holloway (Lenny Kravitz, centre) and Carter Wilson (Cuba Gooding Jr) in a scene from Lee Daniels' "THE BUTLER"
A Hopscotch eOne film release
ANNE MARIE FOX
© 2013 THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Gloria Gaines (Oprah Winfrey, right) and Howard (Terrence Howard) in a scene from Lee Daniels' "THE BUTLER"
A Hopscotch eOne film release
ANNE MARIE FOX
© 2013 Butler Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker, right) and his son Louis (David Oyelowo) in a scene from Lee Daniels' "THE BUTLER"
A Hopscotch eOne film release
ANNE MARIE FOX
© 2013 Butler Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
New President John F. Kennedy (James Marsden) and his wife Jacqueline (Minka Kelly) meet the White House staff in a scene from Lee Daniels' "THE BUTLER"
A Hopscotch eOne film release
ANNE MARIE FOX
© 2013 Butler Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman, right) and wife Nancy (Jane Fonda) in a scene from Lee Daniels' "THE BUTLER"
A Hopscotch eOne film release
ANNE MARIE FOX
© 2013 Butler Films, LLC. All Rights Reserved.