Review: The Help (2011)
Stars: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O’Reilly, Allison Janney, Chris Lowell, Cicely Tyson, Mike Vogel, Sissy Spacek and Brian Kerwin
Writers: Tate Taylor (screenplay), Kathryn Stockett (novel)
Director: Tate Taylor
Alright, so as you all know from my previous posts that I am a huge fan of Stockett’s book, The Help. So of course I was there to see it turned into a feature film. And let me just say this first: Tate Taylor, thank you so much for turning this book into a movie and doing such a fantastic job of it. I was not expecting it to be so close to the book or as emotional but it surpassed my expectations completely. Kudos.
Now for the actors. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Emma Stone is on her way to being one of the best actresses of our time. This young woman can do it all; her role in this movie is my favorite of hers so far because it is in The Help that we see exactly what she is capable of doing. Her character in the film, Skeeter, is just your average young woman straight out of college looking for a job she loves (something many of us can relate to). But it is Skeeter’s heart and courage that we love and admire.
Speaking of courage, the characters of Aibileen and Minny are filled with it. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer brought so much realism to the film. The audience feels what they feel and it is overwhelming at times.
Bryce Dallas Howard as our antagonist, Hilly Holbrook, was unbelievable. Literally. You will watch the actions of this character and you will not believe that this is what people were like in the 60s. You hate her character but you have to commend Howard for playing such a hated woman and doing it so well.
Jessica Chastain’s character in the film brings a different view point. She shows us that some white women of this time are put under and put themselves under a great deal of pressure to be perfect. The perfect wife, the perfect cook, and the perfect mother. Chastain, whom I have never seen before, plays the role flawlessly and was the first one in the film to bring me to tears.
The rest of the cast, both major and minor, truly brought their A-game to this movie. I’m going so far as to say it is one of my favorite movies thus far. It portrays the South so well and I have not seen that kind of realism portrayed in a movie since The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and The Secret Life of Bees (also both books before they were movies). I sincerely recommend this movie, whether you have read the book or not, because it is not about the book. It is not a comedy but there are funny moments in it. It is compelling and emotional and heartbreaking yet uplifting at the same time. You’ll curse the past but will thank the people that have helped change our world, maybe not as much as we hoped, but it has changed and it is becoming better. This movie (and the book) is about what life was like for both the help and the white men and women in the early 60s. Nothing is sugar coated which is exactly what I loved about it. Go see this movie, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
Peace, Love, and Terrific Cinema tonight.
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