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The Butler is a film I thoroughly enjoyed.
Inspired by true events, it follows the story of Cecil Gaines, a butler who serves eight presidents at the White House, during the course of the civil rights movement and America’s other important moments in history such as the Vietnam war.
It’s a completely and utterly enthralling film from start to finish which in parts made me equally angry, joyful and contemplative.
What Lee Daniels has ultimately achieved with this is a film which explores America’s history and racism from both sides and deals with themes of violence, forgiveness and survival delicately and overall successfully.
Spanning decades, there’s a lot going on in The Butler but the main plot thread, the thing that keeps the film grounded and one of the main reasons I enjoyed the film so much is the relationship between Cecil and his son Louis.
These two characters are played to perfection by Forest Whitaker who puts in a decidedly low key but none the less powerful performance and David Oywlowo who in particularly I really liked here.
Seeing these two generations, one of which has survived so long in a racist America by keeping his head down and playing his part in serving the white man and the other who becomes swept up in the civil rights movement by joining protests and groups such as the black panthers, go head to head is to me, the driving force behind the film and works extremely well.
The Butler also boasts one of the most random and excellent supporting casts I’ve seen in a while with Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman, Terrance Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz and James Marsden to name but a few, all of which provide stand out roles, no matter how small their part may be.
In particularly I loved Cusack as Nixon and James Marsden plays JFK spot on. Oprah wasn’t half as annoying as I thought she would be and Gooding Jr. gives his best performance in years.
I have very little complaints and the only minor issue I would say I have is the final ten minutes of the film which seem dragged out for the sake of dragging it out.
I fully understand why they felt the need to put stuff in about Barack Obama but personally I could have done without it and couldn’t help but feel those particular moments had more of a political agenda as opposed to anything else.
Despite this slight issue, I still loved The Butler. It’s powerful, thought provoking and educational to the point where I hope it finds as wide an audience it deserves.