Ramascreen has delivered us another great movie review for the film The Help. Make sure to follow him on Twitter and Like their Facebook page.
The word ‘inspiring’ has been loosely used but for what it’s worth, THE HELP is inspiring and it’s also one of the most well-acted films this year. Great ensemble cast, Oscar nominee Viola Davis delivers her best performance yet. Don’t ignore Octavia Spencer’s solid work as well. Emma Stone shines, Jessica Chastain is excellent, Sissy Spacek and Allison Janney are both outstanding. And I find it refreshing that THE HELP’s portrayal of the south is not as stereotypical as what Hollywood usually makes it out to be, because the setting here is colorful and vibrant, and no one is neither toothless nor caught playing banjo..
Based on one of the most talked about books in years and a #1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon, “The Help” stars Emma Stone (“Easy A”) as Skeeter, Academy Award®–nominated Viola Davis (“Doubt”) as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny—three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s, who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. From their improbable alliance a remarkable sisterhood emerges, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed—even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the changing times.
If you’re worried that THE HELP may be a bit too sentimental for your taste, I think the film does a good job of not pushing itself to that point because even though it is a racial-themed drama where the good guys and the bad guys are very obvious, what stands out about THE HELP is the perfect chemistry between all the characters. Their interactions whether it be arguments, confrontation, or humorous situation, every one of them draws you in, demands your attention, they’re nothing short of compelling.
Emma Stone’s character represents the progressive minded in the ’60s where the mindset is quite stubborn and tradition is ridiculously strong especially when it comes to segregation. Stone who’s played opinionated characters in her previous works, plays her role Skeeter with such ease that it doesn’t take much from her to make us believe that she’s set out to change things for the better.
Oscar nominee Viola Davis who floored me in Doubt, plays Aibileen, a black servant who’s used to taking care of white people’s children and she sympathizes for the children because more than often the parents would neglect them so much so that the children would consider their help as their mothers.
Aibileen wants to assist Skeeter with her book but she approaches this secretive and dangerous venture with caution. Davis has a tremendous on screen presence and when she speaks her lines, there’s a certain amount of respect that’s above anything you’re willing to give for the rest of the cast.
Octavia Spencer plays Aibileen’s best friend, Minny. At first, it seems that Spencer may be the comic relief but her role is more pivotal than that, in fact her interaction with Jessica Chastain’s character Celia Foote embodies the change that the South needs but is too afraid to transform itself into.
I gotta give mad credit to Bryce Dallas Howard who I think plays this year’s best b*tch villain. As the insecure Hilly Holbrook, Bryce makes sure you the audience would hate her guts. She’s judgmental, selfish, merciless, and if Jason Biggs was famous for f*king the American Pie, Bryce will be famous for her own certain peculiar pie encounter too.
I don’t think you necessarily have to read the book in order to appreciate the film because from what novelist Kathryn Stockett described at the roundtable interview, it sounds like Tate Taylor’s script only took the point of view or the perspectives of Skeeter’s, Aibileen’s and Minny’s and expanded them and from what I’ve been told, the novel itself was quite unconventional.
In either case, I think Taylor seemed to have done a good job of compiling the poignant parts and I really enjoyed the look that they have for the costumes, the settings, it’s not grim or dark, it’s actually quite the opposite. And I think that works well because you already have a pretty heavy enough theme, you don’t need the tone or the look and feel to be even heavier, you leave that up to the actors to give that impression for the audience. Speaking of audience, do you think this kind of story is still relevant today? That’s the question I asked when the first trailer hit the web. Because it’s been 40+ years or so, why do we need civil rights type story anymore right? Everything now is ok and everybody’s gettin’ along, right?! Wrong, this kind of movie is still important because unfortunately discrimination, prejudice, and racism come in all shapes and sizes, maybe not so much about colors or ethnics anymore, but it could be about sexual orientation or lifestyles or gang turf. THE HELP resonates and transcends.
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