The political themes that have dominated the films of Theo Angelopoulos thus far are shunted aside in The Bee Keeper, a haunting, demanding impressive picture about the last days in the life of a broken, disappointed man. Almost entirely absent, too, are the intricate, lengthy shot: composed by the director and his brilliant cinematographer Giorgos Arvanitis. There are certainly plenty of long takes in the film, but the camera mostly stays still, observing the characters with a calmness and serenity that add to the quiet, mournful mood. The screenplay is extremely spare, and the viewer has to pay careful attention throughout the lengthy running time because this is a film in which what's said is not as important as whats left unsaid.
Marcello Mastroianni is Spyros, a middle-aged man whose stooped shoulders and dejected look reflect a lifetime of disappointments, his passion, as the title suggests, is bee-keeping...
Mastroianni is in every scene of the film, and submits himself entirely to Angelopoulos' vision. The actor gives a beautiful performance, clearly indicating the despair and loneliness of the character not through dialogue but through looks and body language.
The images of Arvanitis are quite beautiful, and the film is technically first-rate in every department.
David Stratton, Variety