One of those dense, complex literary adaptations that makes you want to read the novel on which it’s based. Unfortunately, I wanted to do that about halfway through the movie. As it follows 11-year-old Eliza Naumann (Flora Cross) through an astonishing succession of spelling bee triumphs, Bee Season tackles issues of both earthly and eternal significance. Eliza’s religious professor father (Richard Gere) begins to believe she has found a way to communicate directly with God. Her mother (Juliette Binoche), meanwhile, has a more practical theory – that
the girl’s spelling premonitions are just an early symptom of the mental illness she herself suffers from and has hidden from her family. Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End) bring a striking style to what is essentially a domestic drama, but in the end they are overwhelmed by their source material. Nearly every scene is lacking the sort of depth and richness you can only get from a good book.