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Queen Bees Is A Wannabe Ikiru

Queen Bees

Director
Plot
Queen Bees plot: Helen is an independent widow who moves into the Pine Grove Senior Community and discovers it’s just like high school – full of cliques and flirtatious suitors. What she initially avoids leads her to exactly what she has been missing: new friendships and a chance at love again with newcomer Dan.

 Rating:**

Queen Bees Review: Remember  the  1952 Japanese  classic Ikiru about aging with grace? Well,   Queen Bees is also a meditation on  mortality, albeit  one that is severely deprived  of subtlety and  stymied  by stock situations and  characters . Though  the cast is impressive it isn’t  a pleasant experience to see the  great Ellen Burstyn(remember her magnificent  Oscar-winning performance  in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More?and  the one-time sex symbol Anne  Margaret playing   octogenarians.

 It took me  a while to recognize the  slouching old man who plays Burstyn’s love interest. It  was none other than James Caan the rebellious Corleone  son  in The  Godfather, now a faint  replica of  his fiery self.

 To see this once young and  charismatic  cast  reduced to a wintry wispy  shadow  of the past is heartbreaking,  much more than  the film which  tries to be  a cheerful treatise on the old and ends ups looking like an  evening  for the  old  where  the  veteran cast tries to have fun with numbers.

Burstyn is Helen who lives all alone and can’t get  along with her daughter Laura(Elizabeth Mitchell).The  daughter admittedly comes across  as a bit of a partypooper, much to  Helen’s (and ours) annoyance. Helen  must  be moved to an old folks’ home when her own residence  needs repairs.She would rather stay with strangers than with her own child.(I can see many parents  empathizing with that).

 The  rest of Queen Bees is an over-cute  under-cooked autumnal poolside party with wheelchairs replacing  pool chairs. While Ellen Burstyn is  just passable in this impossibly artificial upbeat drama, the one  to watch is standup comic Jane Curtin as  the cranky unpleasant Janet whose loss of  faith is attributable to loneliness.

 There is no dearth of emotional pockets  in the plot of Queen Bees. These are  never explored  nor given  a chance to grow organically in a plot that seems  anxious to score with the audience but  fails to  cloak  its  excitement. The  false exuberance  of  the  narrative soon  gets to you. Sequences such as the one where Helen and  her black friend Sally(Loretta  Divine) whip up a storm  in  the bedroom, are only meant to spotlight the screenwriter’s desperation to show  us that the old too can have fun  if they try.

[tnm_video layout=”mnmd-post-media-wide”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEGnA3VVvOU[/tnm_video]

 I totally get that. And I am one with the basic  premise of  this  old-is-gold film. But the execution and  the characters are so  shallow and  uninspiring they seem to be advocating chawanprash rather than living a truly zestful  life.

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