Lee Daniels’ the Butler is a window into time for one man, once a slave, now a butler to the most powerful men on Earth. Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) starts the story as a young boy working the cotton fields with his mother and father. Slaves to the times and held down by a country that does not count them. Anger and action leave this young boy alone which lands him in the main plantation house to work as a proper "House" boy.
Older and finding himself a man with no choices, he sets out to find a better life. Unfortunately, his better life is starving and scared on the streets. With no other skills, he finds himself a job learning to be a proper butler in a small hotel. From there his journey and etiquette move him up to a top hotel in Washington D.C. Then through luck and his training, he finds himself a Butler walking the halls of the White House and serving the President of the United States.
Through the years his story is expanded as he is joined by his family. His wife Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) finds herself alone more than not as her husband lives to serve. While Cecil's oldest son Louis (David Oyelowo) takes to action joining progressive groups all aimed at equality and obtaining the rights we all take for granted today.
Leaving a light touch on history is this farm raised boy who became servant to the kings of America. His proper place holding true as the leaders of the free worked to prove their worth or fall from the grace of this hopeful man in the background. And while he does not join the struggle for what is right, he silently fights and serves as the image of what is proper and is deserving of its own recognition.
This film, while heavy handed at time, does have a strong message to tell. The standpoint of one man and his family looking out at the slow, but ever changing world, is interesting and motivational. The all-star cast also lends credence to what this film promotes; involvement even in small doses can produce something greater and move the story. Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey do a superb job as they hold the cornerstones of this family, sometimes strong and sometimes crumbling they deliver characters with flaws that are more about environment than the choices given to them.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 2hr 12mins.
Movie Trailer - Lee Daniels' The Butler