You may have some arguments with a few of the facts in the script of “The Butler,” but you can’t deny the mesmerizing performance of Forest Whitaker in the role of Cecil Gaines,
Gaines had a 40 year career as a butler in the White House, serving eight presidents, Truman thru Reagan. He came from an impoverished background as a slave on a cotton plantation where, as a little boy, he saw his own father murdered in cold blood.
Gaines married and raised a family in Washington, D.C. His alcoholic wife is played by Oprah Winfrey.
“The Butler” serves to illuminate not just Gaines’ life and struggles, but it is also a visit back to that point in time in our country when segregation, equal rights and Viet Nam were the issues of the day. A large cast appears in “The Butler” playing all manner of characters, from Harry Truman to Nancy Reagan. These performers include Robin Williams, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Alan Rickman.
But it is the impeccable performance of Forest Whitaker that makes “The Butler” a film you should see.
Both as a journey through a painful time in American history, and along the path of one man’s indomitable drive to have a better, more meaningful life, “The Butler” is a significant work made all the more important by the sensitivity and power of Forest Whitaker’s memorable performance.