Not that it is bad, but it is long and it can be boring -I am pretty sure I closed my eyes at some point.
It is like one of those holiday-themed films with an ensemble cast they make nowadays, but with quality and good acting. Anyway, 80% of those actors only appear for two minutes or less. I was expecting to see a lot of Vanessa Redgrave, and she barely spoke two lines.
The main story is the life of Cecil Gaines -inspired by the real life figure of Eugene Allen-, who served as a butler at the White House from 1957 to 1986. It basically serves more as a documentary of the 21st century history of the US than as a film. Because it is boring. With moving moments -Hollywood style, obviously- but plain boring.
Many critics have praised the film, but it is my assumption that they do it out of respect for the cast, since all of them are outstanding, truly. But there are so many scenes that could have been cut out, because they make everything slower.
Actually, the B-plot of the movie is the story of Cecil’s son, Louis, and how he fights against racist discrimination and takes part in important events during the 1960-70s, and that story was way more interesting than the father’s. It is understandable that the main point is to show how someone witnessed all these important events from the inside, but it just takes too long.
This over-dramatic tale feels like an Oscar-vehicle for Forest Whitaker -whom we already know is a good actor- and director Lee Daniels, who was already nominated for Precious. But every step seems calculated, with every twist, every line, designed to create a forced emotional moment. At least, let’s be thankful they didn’t depict every president’s run.
Anyway, the film can create a state of somnolence that I had not lived since I saw The American. Never again.