Bee Season plays out like a big-screen adaptation of a pretentiously ponderous novel, which it is. Moreover, it’s an attempt to cash in on the current strain of intelligentsia’s fascination with Jewish mysticism. Even more difficult to swallow? Richard Gere as the guy teaching us all about it. As Saul Naumann, professor of religious philosophy, he becomes obsessed with how his daughter Eliza (Flora Cross) appears naturally to use Kaballah techniques to spell and ultimately win a series of spelling bees. “Letters, when they combine, hold all the secrets of the universe,” he explains. Professor Torah has a son, too, Aaron (Max Minghella, director Anthony’s progeny), who rebels against his Jewish heritage by delving into Buddhism and maybe even Kate Bosworth’s Chali, while his wife, Miriam (Juliette Binoche), is very clearly losing her mind as no one around her notices. What does it all mean? Eliza may know, but in the end all you’re left with are questions as she smiles knowingly. Still, watching the young Cross act is a treat; while Gere struggles to wax esoteric, she glides effortlessly through her scenes. Give the kid a year or two and Dakota Fanning will have something to worry about.