Reviews

The Help

3

Southern wrongs put to civil rights...

The Help review

The tensions of the segregated South have been explored more darkly and deftly in better tomes and films. But Kathryn Stockett’s bestseller was embraced by millions charmed by the female dynamics at work amid the Jim Crow laws.

This deft addressing of difficult subjects was ripe for a movie – and top marks to Disney for lining up a talented cast to play the inhabitants of 1963 Jackson, Mississippi. In their hands, what could be mushy becomes genuinely stirring.

Emma Stone leads as Skeeter, whose journalistic ambitions and anger over the racism she witnesses prompt her to seek out black maids to tell their stories.

Stoic Aibileen (Viola Davis) spills first, then feisty Minny (Octavia Spencer) until a whole town of ‘help’ are bearing witness to the daily cruelty they face. Could this group of oven-stooped women become revolution in its own right? Yes, ma’am.

Evocatively directed by Southern-bred Tate Taylor, The Help is Cool-Whip light, sweet as pie in places and as flimsy as one of Miss Aibileen’s meringues. But what you’ll want second helpings of is Spencer’s sassy comic timing, Davis’ humility, Stone’s innate likeability, Bryce Dallas Howard’s queenbee bitchery, Jessica Chastain’s wounded flooziness and Allison Janney’s brilliant brand of crazy.

Make no mistake, this is ladies’ night, with top role models, spot-on performances and a palpable sense of women being able to change the world in a time when not only ethnic minorities struggled to be heard. No mean feat, and no doubt the girl-power ticket to Oscar nods.

Verdict:

A faithful, heart-warming adaptation that will satisfy fans of the book, divert the uninitiated and tickle the Academy’s fancy. You’ll never look at a chocolate pie the same way again.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • etzioni

      Nov 3rd 2011, 11:14

      5

      Definitely worth more than 3 stars!! Beautiful films, great acting. It had me laughing and crying throughout. Strongly recommended.

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    • FBEXanthopoul

      Jan 21st 2012, 16:00

      3

      www.unsungfilms.com by Eleni Antonaropoulou “The Help” is a bestselling book written by Kathryn Stockett, which was rejected more than 60 times by literary agents and publishers before finally getting printed. I read the book around the same time the film was being shot, and when I found out about the imminent adaptation I couldn’t really imagine how it was going to work, and I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. It’s always tricky trying to get a book onto the big screen, especially books which have had a huge impact on their audience. After reading the novel, it was clear that “The Help” was a particularly special case. Reading the book, I quickly developed a great admiration for the author’s originality. One of the hardest things to achieve as a writer is the creation of different and believable characters. In this case, the author tells the story through two black maids, and through these characters, Stockett cleverly gives a voice to two people whose voices were seldom heard. Through their story, she succeeds in criticizing a whole conservative and racist society. Black maids raise white kids, while they are not allowed to use the same bathroom. The characters are well structured, showing that everyone has a story to tell and the only thing left to do is listen. The author manages to illuminate this beautifully. On the other hand, watching the movie disappointed me somewhat. There was nothing clearly wrong with it – generally it came across as a touching and funny film. The problem being that for me, the book was a whole lot more. The casting was adequate and everybody approached their character in the best possible way, but something was missing. The screenplay felt like a light and humorous take on the book, failing to convey the true weight of the story. The movie wasn’t bad in any way. As a movie it was good. As an adaptation it was lacking. It lacked the spirit of the book, the emotional impact that so often left you speechless. When I read the book, I recommended it highly, while the movie didn’t leave me as excited. Eleni Antonaropoulou at www.unsungfilms.com

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