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Movie Review: Bee Season

Alternate Title: How do You Spell Waste of Time?

Story: You know from the get go that things are not quite right in the Naumann household when you see one child reading the Torah aloud to the younger child, chamber music duets being performed after dinner and not a TV in sight. My goodness, this is supposed to be America! Okay, it is located in a suburban community outside of Oakland, but it is still America.

Mr. Naumann is a professor who teaches Kaballah. Mrs. Naumann is a scientist (we know that because she occasionally peeks into a microscope). Teenage Aaron is a scholar, musician and the golden child of the family until his younger sister Eliza begins to win spelling bees.

All hell breaks loose is many a disjointed manner. Plot holes the size of Massachusetts and leaps of faith difficult for any movie goer to make are thrown at us. I wanted to like this film because it is technically interesting but I just could not reach across that chasm and believe any of the characters.

Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegal (The Deep End) deliver a visually interesting film but it just leaves you saying 'huh'? It is based on the book by Myla Goldberg (I am told it was terrific but I did not read it) with a screen play by Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal (yes, the mother of the acting siblings).

Rest assured that a film that tackles Kaballah, Hare Krishnas, mysticism, family dysfunction, kleptomania and spelling bees can not do it all and make it work. Sorry, but this film tanked.

Acting: Richard Gere should stick to what he does best. He does slick and stylish well but as a professor of Kaballah? NOT! Juliette Binoche's character was the most unresolved and baffling. Her talent was wasted in this film. Max MInghella as Aaron shows teenage promise and little Flora Cross (who is a dead ringer as Binoche's daughter) may have a career ahead of her.

Predilection: None

Critters: A dog and a morning dove.

Food: Professor Naumann prepared family meals with grand flourish.

Blatant Product Placement: Apple & Alfa Romeo

Visual Art: There are some interesting digital effects while little Eliza is visualizing words.

Theater Audience: About six head scratching theater goers.

Quirky Meter: 3

Drift Factor: I must have looked at my watch about 20 times.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: If you want to see a film about spelling go rent Spellbound. If you want to see a better film a bout families go see The Squid and the Whale. If you want to see some of Juliette Binoche's better films, rent: Chocolat, The Widow of Saint-Pierre, Alice and Martin, The English Patient, The Horseman on the Roof, Red, White, Blue, Wuthering Heights, The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Length: Thankfully under two hours.