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The Butler

  • Drama
  • 2013
  • Lee Daniels
  • 132 mins
  • 12A
    More info: UK: Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over (unless accompanied by an adult)

Summary

Domestic servant Cecil Gaines gets a position as a butler in the White House that lasts for 30 years. He serves seven US presidents and bears witness to some of the most important turning points in American history, including the Vietnam war and the struggles of the Civil Rights movement. Fact-based drama, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, with Robin Williams, John Cusack and Alan Rickman.

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Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Director Lee Daniels hit the big time when Precious picked up a best screenplay Oscar in 2010, but his follow-up film, steamy thriller The Paperboy, was less well received. Daniels would seem to be on safer ground with this drama about Cecil Gaines, a black White House butler (inspired by real-life butler Eugene Allen) who served seven US presidents, from Dwight D Eisenhower in the 1950s to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. However, it's a sprawling, soapy affair with Gaines (Forest Whitaker) portrayed as something of a Forrest Gump figure, stolidly standing stock-still while significant moments of 20th-century history (the civil rights movement, the Black Panthers, the Vietnam War) swirl past him. There's a certain pleasure to be derived from the star casting - Robin Williams as Eisenhower, John Cusack as Richard Nixon and Alan Rickman as Reagan (with Jane Fonda as Nancy) - but there's also an underlying TV-movie ambience to the tale and it would probably have worked better as a small-screen mini-series.

How to Watch

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On demand

Details

Theatrical distributor
Entertainment
Released on
2013-11-15
Language
English
Guidance
Some violence, swearing.
Available on
DVD and Blu-ray
Formats
Colour

Credits

Cast

rolename
Cecil GainesForest Whitaker
Gloria GainesOprah Winfrey
Louis GainesDavid Oyelowo
Richard NixonJohn Cusack
Dwight EisenhowerRobin Williams
Nancy ReaganJane Fonda
Carter WilsonCuba Gooding Jr
Annabeth WestfallVanessa Redgrave
Ronald ReaganAlan Rickman
John F KennedyJames Marsden
Lyndon B JohnsonLiev Schreiber
HowardTerrence Howard
Hattie PearlMariah Carey
James HollowayLenny Kravitz
Thomas WestfallAlex Pettyfer
Jackie KennedyMinka Kelly
James LawsonJesse Williams
Martin Luther King JrNelsan Ellis
MaynardClarence Williams III

Crew

rolename
DirectorLee Daniels
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