BEE SEASON | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
When quiet sixth-grader Ellie (Flora Cross) exhibits a gift for winning spelling bees, her newfound talent throws her family of high achievers into varying degrees of psychic turmoil. Adapted from Myla Goldberg's novel, Bee is no Spellbound, the charming 2002 documentary about kids' spelling bees, but instead a dour think piece about mysticism, the Kabbalah, madness, the symbiotic power of language, death, poor parenting and solipsism (a word, by the way, young Ellie has to spell). Bee is well acted - Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche are the self-interested parents, and Cross never reads as cute. Co-directors David Seigel and Scott McGhee find clever visuals to depict such abstracts as fractured psyches and a gift for spelling, but the film is so downbeat and academic that while we ponder God and words aplenty, we never connect with these characters emotionally. (AH)

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