Okay, don't even get me started on the pretentiousness of having the director's name in the film's title. Really?
Forest Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines, a butler who finds his way into the White House as part of the wait staff through many presidents in the 1950s, starting with Eisenhower through to the 1990s. Throughout the decades, Cecil sees the Civil Right movement emerge through the politics of the times, getting a first-hand account of political interests and watching presidents struggle to keep a nation united in spite of the inequities all too apparent at play, while also having a elder son involved in the Civil Rights movement on the ground level. Oprah Winfrey plays Cecil's wife, David Oyelowo is the elder son Louis. Many historical bit parts of important political characters are played by many recognizable actors throughout the film. It almost becomes a drinking game of its own.
Narratively speaking, it's pretty straight forward, but maybe a little too black-and-white in the shadings while showing the viewers the unrest and ugliness of race relations of the 1960s. As Cecil rises amongst the ranks of the wait staff in the White House throughout the decades of service, the internal strife of seeing how the fight for Civil Rights has exacted a personal toll through the story of his son, Louis, and also his younger son. And in the end, Cecil has to make his own stand against the status quo.
I wanted to like it more, but the script just feels too pedantic at times to let the story flow organically.
I give it 2.75 stars or a grade of B-.