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Bee Season - Preview

Bee Season, poster

Preview by Jack Foley

FOR Richard Gere fans, Bee Season could represent one of the most ambitious and baffling films of his career.

Based on the bestselling novel by Myla Goldberg, the film follows a family of seekers, each of whom is looking to God, transcendence or love, in their search for something greater than themselves.

The primary focus lies with 11-year-old Eliza Nauman (Flora Cross) who discovers a gift for spelling that puts her on course to become the national spelling bee champion.

The gift both surprises and delights her father, Saul ( Gere), a professor of religion, who has previously been fairly dismissive of his daughter’s efforts.

He has previously written a thesis on Jewish mysticism and quickly takes control of Eliza’s spelling career in the belief that she may be experiencing something other-worldly.

Is God talking through her?

Saul’s new bond with his daughter comes at the expense of Eliza’s older brother, Aaron (Max Minghella), a serious-minded young scholar and cello player, who subsequently turns to a different form of religion (hare Krishna) for escape.

While Saul’s wife, Miriam (Juliette Binoche), is quietly facing a spiritual crisis of her own, and unbeknownst to her family is engaging in petty thievery in her quest for beauty and salvation.

The film comes to a head as Saul attempts to tap Eliza’s uncanny knack with words and create a pipeline to God according to the tenets of an ancient Kabbalah scholar.

Bee Season played at this year’s London Film Festival and was one of the more ambitious Hollywood offerings – coming from Fox Searchlight (the independent arm).

It is sure to provoke a lot of debate among those who get it, while a great deal of scorn from those who don’t.

It should certainly feature among the more interesting releases of the first half of 2006.