Film review: The Butler

The Butler tells the story of Cecil Gaines, a black man who served as butler in the White House in the second half of the 20th century, and the landmark events he witnessed with almost unfettered access to the corridors of power.

We have recently seen a spate of films that deal with slavery or with the similarly themed movement against segregation in the 1950s and ’60s, and within a few months the heavily hyped 12 Years a Slave is scheduled to be released across Eastern Europe.

Opening on a cotton plantation in the 1920s, we see the young Cecil’s mother being dragged to a shed by the white landowner, and as she screams and the many workers around pretend not to hear anything, for fear of retribution, we cringe. The film certainly evokes some powerful moments from the tainted history of the United States, but we also cringe because the roles of the landowner, the young Cecil and his mother all seem so incredibly simplistic and wholly lacking in complexity.

To read the full review, visit The Prague Post. The Butler will be screened as part of Kinomania 2013 festival in Sofia.

(Still of Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Photo by Anne Marie Fox – © 2013 THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)