Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” follows the career of Cecil Gaines as a White House butler during the civil rights movement. Gaines, played by Forest Whittaker, Michael Rainey Jr. and Aml Ameen, served during eight different Presidents’ administrations. Starting out as a lowly cotton field sharecropper, he works his way up to a service position in a fancy hotel where he is then offered a job to serve the president.
With the support of his wife, played by Oprah Winfrey, he raises two boys struggling with the racial prejudices and changing times of the civil rights movement. The internal and external struggle portrayed between father and son is exemplified by Gaines’ eldest son’s desire to make a positive change to end racial segregation.
In this riveting account of one man’s life as a White House butler, the audience witnesses the changing times in America from the 1920s to the breakthrough election of Barack Obama. This realistic approach to the struggles of African Americans during a crucial part of our country’s history allows for a different perspective than one would expect to see.
The final 20 minutes of the film induce tear-jerking emotions that fill the audience with pride and sympathy for the protagonists. “The Butler” is a must-see for those who enjoyed movies like “The Help” and “Remember the Titans.”
The only criticism would be the lack of a plot line within Gaines’ character as a butler. The film has an excellent portrayal of the civil rights movement, but the most exciting scenes tended to lean towards the sons’ character development.
Laura Good is a senior history education major. This review reflects the view of the writer only.