14A, 132 minutes
Alan Rickman; Robin Williams; Vanessa Redgrave; Cuba Gooding Jr.; David Oyelowo; Forest Whitaker; John Cusack; Lenny Kravitz; Liev Schreiber; Melissa Leo; Oprah Winfrey; Terrence Howard
Lee Daniels' The Butler is an ambitious, sweeping period drama that manages to be incredibly affecting and feel as if the words ''For Your Consideration'' are stamped across every frame. Inspired by the true story of an African-American steward who worked under eight presidents (Truman through Reagan), the film stars Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines — an unassuming man who witnesses history close-up at a time when a new chapter seems to be written daily. As proof of how radically the world will change during his lifetime, the story begins with Cecil as a boy working on a cotton plantation, where his employer (a fragile, haughty Vanessa Redgrave) teaches him how to serve white folks: ''The room should feel empty when you're in it.'' Years pass, and Cecil lands a job at a ritzy D.C. hotel, where his white-gloved obsequiousness grabs the attention of a White House aide, who hires him. As Cecil, Whitaker is mesmerizing. The actor seems to shrink into his imposing frame, summoning a performance of quiet, bottled-up force.
Entertainment Weekly- Chris Nashawaty