"Love Without God"
What You Need To Know:
Richard Gere, though energetic, seems miscast. Also, most of the other actors and characters are uninvolving and even annoying sometimes. Flora Cross as Eliza, however, is a great find. BEE SEASON seems like an innocent movie that shows the importance of love in family life, especially if the family is growing apart. The movie wraps this premise, however, in a story where religion, including Christianity, tears families apart. Thus, the movie reflects a very strong and abhorrent, but subtle, humanist worldview.
(HHH, Ro, B, FR, O, PC, AbAb, L, V, N, A, MM) Ultimately an implicit, misguided and confused, but very strong, humanist worldview with Romantic inclinations that rejects spirituality and achievement in favor of emotional bonds and family love, with much talk about God, often in a Jewish and Kabbalistic context, and movie stresses the importance of love in holding a family together, but it neglects to view love in a Christian worldview, which teaches that spirituality and theological knowledge and commitment is meaningless without love, and Jewish Kabbalah (an occult reading of the Bible) and Hare Krishna cultic beliefs are rejected, but so is Christianity, and, in doing this, movie seems to have a politically correct, ultimately anti-biblical attitude toward all spirituality and religion; three obscenities (including two “f” words) and one light profanity; father slaps son and little girl has some kind of fit of religious ecstasy; no sex scenes; upper male nudity; minor alcohol use; no smoking; and, lying, stealing, kleptomania, breaking into people’s houses, neurotic behavior, woman placed in psychiatric ward, Hare Krishna cult seems to be appropriately rebuked and made to look silly, and father’s controlling nature becomes an issue in family problems.
BEE SEASON stars Richard Gere as Saul Naumann, a religion professor whose specialty, and passion, is Jewish Kabballah, an occult, sometimes pagan reading of the Old Testament. Although he seems loving, Saul neglects his wife, Miriam, in favor of his Kabbalah studies and passionate music playing sessions with his talented son, Aaron.
When Saul’s little daughter, Eliza, wins a spelling bee contest at school and is scheduled to go to the state contest, Saul finds a way to combine his passion for Kabbalah, which studies the Word and words of God, with Eliza’s training to win the spelling bee. Saul and Eliza play tremendous word games. Saul teaches her that studying words and language is a good way to get much closer to God, who spoke the world into creation, including light itself.
As Saul gets further wrapped up in Eliza’s training and their studies together, his son Aaron becomes jealous. He seeks comfort in other religions and ends up in a Hare Krishna cult. Meanwhile, Saul’s wife gets further wrapped up in her own secret project – stealing things from other people’s houses to create a work of such amazing beauty and light that Saul will finally give her the kind of attention that he used to give her, and more besides. Only a selfless act by Eliza can begin to bring the family back together again.
The description of this story sounds better than it plays. Richard Gere, though energetic, seems miscast in this role. The actor playing the son also isn’t that good, at least in this performance. His character is also annoying. Meanwhile, the wife’s character is too mysterious and undeveloped to be very interesting. Furthermore, the ending is perplexing, partly because it is so abrupt and undeveloped. And, indeed it puzzled the people sitting around MOVIEGUIDE® at the Toronto International Film Festival where we saw this movie.
Almost making up for all these problems is the performance of Flora Cross as Eliza. She is truly charming and lovable. Viewers will really root for her success, which made the ending of the film all that much more perplexing, unsatisfying and annoying.
Perhaps the problem is that one never gets the sense that these people truly are related. Thus, Eliza’s sacrifice to bring the family back together seems such a waste. If true, this is a problem with the script. The writer perhaps should have had one or two scenes showing something really positive about the family as a whole. Then, when the family members drift apart, viewers would have had some reason to root for the family getting back together and becoming whole again. That still wouldn’t have answered the open, unanswered question in the movie of how exactly does Eliza’s sacrifice bring the family back together.
On the surface, BEE SEASON seems like an innocent movie that shows the importance of love in family life, especially if the family is growing apart. The movie wraps this premise, however, in a story where religion, including the Christian religion and biblical principals, is one of the things that tears families apart. Thus, the movie reflects a very strong, but subtle, humanist worldview, with Romantic inclinations.
Viewers may miss this point while watching the movie, but they must realize how confused the movie’s worldview actually is. Speaking from a Christian perspective, the movie cheats viewers because it fails to consider the joys and enrichments that come when a family worships Christ together. Furthermore, although the Jewish Kaballah teachings presented in the movie are dry and intellectual and are used in a controlling way, the movie shows that it knows nothing of the joys and magnificent insights that can come when you study the Bible and its words in a serious and intelligent way. Finally, BEE SEASON stresses the importance of love in holding a family together, but it neglects to view love in a Christian worldview, which teaches that spirituality and theological knowledge and commitment is meaningless without love.
Thus, in the end, the movie’s humanist premise is like all the false, confused, irrational, self-righteous, lying, and superficial humanist premises that Christians run into whenever they try to witness to atheists and humanist skeptics. This is why, if you are going to go to movies or watch movies in your home, you and your family must be capable of applying media-wise, Christian principles and premises. Otherwise, you and your family, especially your children when they go away to school or college, will be vulnerable to bad arguments like the ones presented in this “innocent” little film.
Much more can be said about this movie’s problems, but you get the point.