The trailers for "Lee Daniels' The Butler" make it appear to be a saccharine mess of a movie with a random assortment of famous actors packed into it. Don't believe it, Hartford. "Lee Daniels' The Butler" is a fantastic historical biopic depicting the 34 year career of the fictional Cecil Gaines (he is based off of Eugene Allen) as a butler in The White House.
Forest Whitaker plays Gaines an everyman who simply wants to take care of his family and forget about his cruel childhood in the deep South. In the film it's easy to see why he's won an Oscar. He commands each scene with just a look, saying everything with his eyes. Unfortunately, his oldest son Louis (David Oyelowo) won't let him forget as his takes part in the ongoing Civil Rights Movement.
Among this domestic drama is the backdrop of The White House and her presidents. Gaines serves for Dwight D. Eisenhower through Ronald Regan. Notable actors play the presidents. Specifically, Robin Williams plays President Dwight D. Eisenhower,James Marsden plays President John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber plays President Lyndon B. Johnson and John Cusack plays President Richard Nixon.
Oprah Winfrey returns to acting and does a great job as Ganies' wife Gloria. She and Whitaker play well off each other and have a easy chemistry together. Other stand outs in the film are Elijah Kelley as Charlie Gaines and Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Carter Wilson (welcome back to quality films Mr. Gooding!).
The film does run a bit long and is heavy on the history so if you aren't a history fan this film might not be for you. Still, it's a moving portrayal of race relations in America from a point of view not usually shown on film. Please go see this film Hartford. It's playing at Bow Tie Cinemas in Hartford.