Film Review: HONEY BEE (Canada 2018) ***

Honey Bee Poster
Follows the journey of Natalie “Honey Bee” Sorensen, an underage truck stop prostitute trapped in a human trafficking ring until she is transplanted into foster care in remote Northern Ontario and forced to confront her identity.


Rama Rau

HONEY BEE is teen Natalie’s nickname which she is fond of that many of her friends or acquaintances use.

When the film opens Natalie (Julia Sarah Stone) is having a name tattooed on her wrist.  The tattoo reads “Ryan” (Stephen Love) a handsome boy who on first appearance acts a little weird sending and vibes to the audience.  But Natalie is head over heals in love with Ryan and she plans to go with him to the ‘Big Nickel’, which is, as many who live in the Province of Ontario, the mining town of Sudbury.

Just when one thinks that this is going to be the run-of-the-mill teen romance story, the story takes a sharp turn.  Natalie, who is really skinny and looking sort of emancipated is not what she seems.  The next scene shows her giving sexual favours to a trucker before being arrested.  But she is minor and put into a farm with foster parents instead.  It turns out that Ryan is a pimp who intends to sell her to another pimp in Sudbury.  And so the story goes.

It is a solid story.  The best thing too is that the audience is not on the side of Natalie as she is shown to be brash, rude and ill-disciplined.  The foster home is a farm where she is supposed to work while attending school.  But she is a rebellious teen and one can hardly sympathize with her.

Again director Rau  slowly turns the tables and evokes the audience’s sympathy.  She begins to realize through the signs that Ryan is not the decent man of her life and that he was using her, if not intending to sell her off for a large sum of money.

HONEY BEE has an indescribable charm that radiates throughout the story.  This is due to the enduring characters, each of of the characters in the film exhibiting charm at some point or other.  Cliched ,perhaps but the tactic works.  Natalie eventually wins the audience over, thanks to the subtly manipulative script by Bonnie Fairweather and Kathleen Hepburn.

The character of Natalie’s plump roommate, Chante (Michelle McLeod, DON’T TALK TO IRENE) always needs mention.  This is one person who has trouble fitting into the world.  When Natalie shows up, Change pictures her as the perfect saviour.  At first the two are at loggerheads, but they eventually bond together.

HONEY BEE works well foremost because director Rau tells the story in a straight forward fashion in chronological order.  Many directors would have opted for more style with a non-linear story telling that one becomes annoying hard to follow.  Director believes in the material and lets it workouts magic.

HONEY BELL ends up a little predictable coming-of-age story not only of Natalie but also of her roommate.  The film, based on solid script transformed into a well directed film, ends up charming the audience because of its endearing characters.  



Hot Docs 2019 Reviews: THE DAUGHTER TREE (Canada 2019) ****

The Daughter Tree Poster

THE DAUGHTER TREE is a cinematic character-driven feature documentary with unprecedented access that explores the aftermath of a cultural preference for baby boys sweeping through interior … See full summary »


Rama Rau

Indians are stubborn to have a boy.  They abort the girls.  Changing the natural order results in unbalances in the human ecology of things.  There are insufficient girls to be married off and many males end up singles, unable to find a wife.  Brides are often sold to willing males.  

The insightful doc THE DAUGHTER TREE, filmed in India is an entertaining  and absorbing examination of the problem.  This is a totally new Canadian documentary written, produced and directed by Rama Rau, an epic documentary film, six years in the making, about the disappearance of women in India resulting in all-male populations in some villages.  If there is a feminist themed movie, this is the one as it deals with the subject from the roots.  

Females are just as important if not more important than  their male counterparts.  The film explores the aftermath of a cultural preference for baby boys sweeping through interior India, through the eyes of a fearless Warrior midwife called Neelam who counsels and advocates for baby girls, while a lone man in the Village of Men – so called because no girl has been born here the past three decades – goes on a quest to find a wife.  

The film is also beautifully shot by D.P. Nagaraj Diwakar.  India never looks so stunning, especially not in a documentary.