Blu-ray review: The Butler
(e one, M)
One quiet voice can ignite a revolution, the tagline says.
That quiet voice belongs to Whitehouse butler Cecil Gaines played with strength and conviction by Oscar winning actor Forest Whitaker . . . a far cry from his role in The Last King of Scotland.
The Butler is a retelling of the familiar American rags to riches story. It tells how Gaines left the plantation in the deep south on which he was raised to seek his fortune and winds up serving president after president in The White House.
On one level it's as simple as that, delivering a sort of American version of Upstairs, Downstairs or even Downton Abbey, except the focus is mainly on the servants downstairs.
They work hard all day to keep the White House going, never uttering a word of what goes on inside of its walls to those outside for fear of losing their jobs or something worse.
But there's another string to The Butler's bow which will please the historian and that is the backdrop of this story: The African-American Civil Rights Movement.
While Gaines serves President after President, eight in all, his sons begin fighting for their rights and their country.
It is from this backdrop that The Butler gets most of its drama, and a thought provoking story it is.
Some interesting extras round this release off. Gaines, it seems, is based on a real White House butler who lived to see Obama rise to the White House. Because he is a fictional character, however, you are left wondering how true to reality this story is.
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