Bee Season

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Bee Season Movie Poster Image
Spelling bees and family drama; not for kids.
  • PG-13
  • 2005
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Family grapples with loss of emotional closeness and spiritual direction; a troubled mother becomes a thief; a father becomes obsessed with his young daughter's capacity to "connect with God."


Flashbacks of car accident that left one character's parents dead (no bodies, but disturbing fragments of visual/emotional trauma).


Passionate sex scene between parents.


Brief strong language by father and teenaged son during an argument (f-word).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this drama focuses on a family's gradual, difficult breakdown. It includes several tense family scenes, one harsh argument between father and son (yelling and using the f-word), and the revelation of the mother's mental illness (she's having flashbacks to the harrowing sight of her parents' fatal car crash, and stealing objects from houses she can reach by car and by foot). A young spelling prodigy comes to see not only how words are spelled, but also how to forgive and help her fragile family.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bychildof_1_God April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written byAmo340 February 25, 2019
Kid, 9 years old December 9, 2017

Really Good Movie But At Times Very Confusing And Difficult To Understand

This movie is good for tweens and teeens; wouldn’t recommend it as a must see but I thought it was still pretty good. Parents should know there are times when t... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on Maya Goldberg's 2000 novel, BEE SEASON focuses on the Naumanns, a well-meaning, intellectual, dysfunctional family. The Naumann's dysfunctions provide a ground for exploring the relationship between language and experience, or, put another way, the dire consequences of literalizing desire. Dad Saul (Richard Gere) is a Kabbalist professor who puts his energies into sixth grade spelling prodigy Eliza (Flora Cross) and convinces himself that she might become "someone who can really connect to God." Saul neglects his son Aaron (Max Minghella), who looks elsewhere for "meaning" and finds it in Hari Krishna devotee Chali (Kate Bosworth). The most tragic Naumann is mom Miriam (Juliette Binoche), who harbors a past trauma. She too feels neglected by Saul and falls increasingly into a form of literalization that has, apparently, plagued her for years. Her visions reveal the fragmented way by which she sees the world, what the camera shows through the kaleidoscope she gives Eliza. Slowly, she comes undone, frightening her children.

Is it any good?

Suffused with loss and longing, Bee Season is often, in single scenes, delicate and moving. This makes its lapses into inelegance almost more intriguing as they clash with the brief close-ups of Eliza's shallow breaths and closed eyes as she goes into trances during spelling bee competitions. Yet the movie depends too much on contrivances, stereotypes, and very slow-on-the-uptake parents and partners. All of which leaves you feeling a step ahead of the narrative, not an ideal position when contemplating spiritual "truths."

As Eliza wins trophies and accolades, she also comes to understand -- and forgive -- her parents' flaws. The movie's themes and images are evocative and sometimes cryptic, raising spiritual and emotional questions, but it tangles up the theme of literalism with plot in ways that are sometimes clunkier than they are poignant or shrewd.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the increasing distances among the family members. How might Saul pay closer attention to Miriam's needs, even as he pursues his own desire for a profound spiritual experience? How do the various searches for spiritual "connection" parallel one another?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate