The Film: The Butler (General release)


What is it? Lee Daniels’s film about a White House butler, starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo, with cameos from Jane Fonda, Robin Williams, John Cusack and Alan Rickman.

The Independent says: “An unashamedly schmaltzy, episodic trawl through African-American history … the screenplay dutifully ticks off the big events and personalities from the point of view of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a butler who serves at the White House between 1957 and 1986 …. At times, The Butler seems like a celebrity-studded TV movie but it is effective and direct as social history and often moving.”

They say: The Telegraph: “So dehydrogenated and polyunsaturated that an apter title might have been … I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butler. [It] glides inoffensively through 10 decades of US history, stopping off at as many epochal events as possible while taking great care not to spill the soup … The lesson [is that] a  lifetime of servitude can  change the world too.”

The Spectator: “Heavy-handed, predictable, bland ... so contrived in its sentimentality I sniggered at what should have been the moments of emotional impact.”

You say: @dizziemarcus: “Oprah Winfrey stand out performance in The Butler, and very curious to see Alan Rickman as Reagan”