The Help Reviews
Well acted, briskly shot with a story that is simply told without much complexity. But for a film that tries to be important it isn't orchestrated substantively enough to be as raw and hard-hitting that a film about this subject matter should be. But it's still a film worth watching as "The Help" has some impressive points that make it a film to be appreciated.
Based on Kathryn Stockett's best selling novel of the same name, "The Help" tells the story of a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (played by Emma Stone), and her decision to write a controversial book from the point of view of the help (the maids). She convinces two maids Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) to tell their stories exposing the casual racism they face on a daily basis from their white families.
The performances are strong. Viola Davis anchors a cast with power and she's a key reason why "The Help" works. She plays Aibileen Clark with an air of dignity, compassion and strength that is a sight to behold. She could have easily taken the character into caricature mode (the kindly old maid) but she doesn't - and for that reason Davis is earning some well-deserved kudos and strong Oscar buzz.
She is surrounded by some nice revelations as well. Octavia Spencer gets the role of her life as outspoken Minny Jackson. Like Davis, she walks the fine line between caricature and realism and pulls it off. Spencer's role is a particularly tough one as the "sassy" role has been done to death, but her portrayal is spot on and believable. Jessica Chastain is having a career year and her role here like Davis' and Spencer's is also borderline cartoon and she also nails it. These three standout performances elevate "The Help" from average status.
The rest of the film's performance don't walk that fine line quite as well. While it's hard to find fault with Emma Stone's solid performance, you can't say the same of Bryce Dallas Howard who starts off fine but then turns her character into Cruella DeVil. Her villainy is so outrageous at times (she puts her Mom in a home for laughing at her) that by the time she gets her, not surprising, comeuppance it doesn't ring true.
"The Help" in its attempt to be palatable to all audience glosses over a lot of the real serious themes the film is about. The racism is given the Hollywood treatment so the full impact of what the Help went through doesn't make the audience feel too uncomfortable.
At least the film doesn't entirely pander to the audience (like the atrocious "Crash" did). "The Help" is a smartly constructed, watchable film that has lots of great moments, but at the end doesn't leave much of an impact regarding the subject matter.
This is an incredible film that not only pays justice to the bestseller on which it's based (according to those who have read the book AND seen the film), but is phenomenally cast, with exceptional performances by Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Allison Janney. Veteran actresses Sissy Spacek and Cicely Tyson also deliver incredible performances. While Tyson's character is central to the storyline, her role comprises what seems to be a few, precious minutes of the 2:20 running time, she delivers, in my opinion, one of the most powerful and moving moments in the film...one in which she doesn't even utter a line (trust me, you'll know when you see it.)
The Help also delivers some very funny moments and will make you laugh. I'll go so far as to say that this film and a few of its cast members will draw some Oscar nominations. I certainly think this takes Stone into a whole new level.
The racial imbalances of 1963 are well illustrated in "The Help," and will, no doubt, underscore how far America has come,.Either way, this is a powerful movie that needs to be seen.. 5 stars . 4=20=13
Question: Do you feel stuck or made to feel like your life can't get better? You think if you even try to and improve your life you will just be beaten down and told "NO, you aren't allowed to do that", right? Everyone should have one thing in this world that allows them to feel there is a chance at change. It's called hope - a powerful emotion. And once you have hope change can begin. Well, the movie, The Help, showed that if you have the courage to share your story, no matter how scared you are, or oppressed, you will eventually be free and happy. As the tagline goes, "Change begins with a whisper."
In The Help the women of Jackson, Mississippi, specifically the black women, can't pursue their dreams; actually they can't pursue anything due to the racism that was so prevalent in this country in the early 60's in the South. I will tell you not many things make me angry but racism disturbs me so that this movie was particularly hard for me to watch without getting overly emotional. (I really need to carry around more tissues.) The movie represented the harsh reality these women faced on a daily basis by society. There were parts that were light in nature but as soon as you let your guard down the story smacked you with another blow. It was an emotional roller coaster for me.
The story starts with Aibileen (played brilliantly by Viola Davis), a black maid, working for a white family. She basically does everything for them: the shopping, the cleaning, the cooking and raising their daughter. This type of job is something she has always done - since she was a teenager. She had no choice. Her mother was a maid and her grandmother was a house slave. She wasn't allowed to pursue an alternative employment. However, she loves the little girl and knows that her mother can't raise her properly. You will witness as to why.
Then Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan comes home from college. Emma Stone plays Skeeter. She is the only woman in town who isn't married with children and she doesn't mind, much to her mother's dismay. She wants to become a writer (yay!). She returns to witness the rampant racism that seems to plague her town, her friends and family. She is then inspired to write about it - specifically from the maid's point of view(s). However, no one will talk to her about it. They were too afraid.
I don't want to go into too much detail as usual but the women portrayed some of the strongest characters and a couple of the most hideous human beings I have ever seen on film. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer played the two main maids in this story and their performances were stellar. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they were both nominated for many awards.
Bryce Dallas Howard was brilliant in this film as Hilly Hollbrook, one of the most racist people in the film. She played it so well that when she came on-screen my heart sank because I knew she would say or do something so hideous - and she usually did. But don't worry - karma takes a hand in this story - a brilliant hand.
Emma Stone (Skeeter) also did a fantastic job as the one who started the wave of change. Through her questions, writing and her own story she allowed the black woman of Jackson to have a voice - something they never had before. Her whisper sparked a revolution.
I have to admit towards the end of the movie the story got a little choppy; and I have feeling the book this movie was based on (by Kathryn Stockett) went in further into detail about the racism, the relationship between these women and the change that took place. Many recommended this book to me last summer but never got around to it. I might just have to read it now.
Have you started your whisper yet? Change can happen.
My favorite thing: The inspiration this movie gave me and to remind me to fight for what I want.
My least favorite thing: Knowing that racism was that bad in this country.
Length: 137 minutes
Review: 8 out of 10
This movie is brilliant throughout although maybe a little slow theres enough humour to keep you interested!
Its a powerful story about a white woman clearly influenced by her own experiences with The Help that she decides to write a story, or a true account of collections straight from The Helps mouths!
It truly is a fantastic movie it is brilliant and i loved every minute of it !
Set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, the story follows Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a recent college grad who, instead of hunting for a husband, wants to embark on a career as a writer. Inspired by her own upbringing and disgusted by the racism of her colleagues and friends she'd lost touch with, she decides to write about racial issues from the perspective of the help- the maids who spend their lives raising white children who sadly tend to grow up to be just like their parents.
Along the way, the film touches upon some really big issues, and gets into various facets of the time period during this volatile era. It's a noble and well meaning film, but, it still plays it safe and sugar coated for the most part. Oh sure, there are some times when it gets edgy, but ultimately the film fails to be as powerful as it should be since it doesn't take that many risks. Also, it doesn't help that it tries to do soo much, but handles it all by just glossing over thngs and painting with broad strokes.
The film gets the pont across of course, but the scholar in me can't help but take issue with the end result. Maybe had the script been more risky, less Hollywood, less feel good, and more concerned with why this era and all the minutae of race relations are so volatile, the end result could have been more powerful. That, and making it a miniseries to really flesh out the details and characterizations wouldn't have hurt, either.
I will defend this film though, because it at least tries to be important, even if it doesn't quite do it in the best way. That, and the acting is wonderful (for the most part), with some really great moments, and a decent balance between humor and heartbreaking. Indeed, this is a moving film, and I admittedly did tear up multiple times...just like I was supposed to.
Emma Stone is great as Skeeter, showing her range as an actress, with a solid turn in a rahter thankless role. Bryce Dalls Howard shines as the malevolently vile and racist socialite ringleader Hilly, although the part is written so cartoonishly, the one dimensionalness of the character takes off the edge and insight needed to make her seem like a real character. Still though, Howard sells it nicely. Jessica Chastain, as the outcast naive socialite with a white trash background is tricky. She seems cartoony at first, but Chastain's performance saves things, and the character does actually become one to care about, though some of the pandering is a bit uncomfortable. The real stars and emotional core of the film though, are Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. They are the true focus of the film, and provide the strongest performances. They are the ones we care about the most, and the accolades they got were well deserved. Both Davis and Spencer got Oscar nods (with Spencer winning), and despite Spike Lee missing the point, this is a high point for the world of African American thespians. As much as I loved these two, especially Spencer, who steals both the dramatic and comedic scenes, I think my favortie performer had to be Sissy Spacek as Hilly's mother- a character who really draws some of the best non Spencer generated laughs.
Okay, so I've rambled on for quite a while with this one. I can't help it. Films like these just bring it out in me, and it's easy to get worked up with materia llike this. I'm giving this film extra credit for the cast, cinematography, performances, and nobleness of it all, though I just wish that people would be more fearless when dealing with material like this, no matter how painful or incendiary.
There is no doubt Davis stands in a league of her own in this picture. And that is quite a feat since she shares much of the screen with Jessica Chastain, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Emma Stone, and Octavia Spencer - who also gives a performance in a league of its own.
The Help is a wonderfully acted and wonderfully shot movie. Where it stumbles is in its execution of the narrative, which quickly becomes an exercise in audience manipulation as opposed to an honest story about racism and the wonderful women who struggled to overcome in. The sympathetic characters are very three dimensional, but the villains are stupid, evil, despicable, and essentially white trash. I never lived in this time or this place, so I could be talking out of my ass (then again, so can a lot of us); however, I felt this movie falls short of greatness because it often eschews its themes in favour of glossy, tear-jerking moments, which unfortunately oversimplify the issues. I enjoyed The Help quite a bit, but it tried too hard to move me in a certain way, and thus, I never became as emotionally invested into it as I did with a film like To Kill a Mockingbird, or even A Time To Kill.
It's a shame really, but the performances are simply outstanding.
Jessica Chastain stole my heart. She was fantastic as Celia Foote.
Director: Tate Taylor
Summary: In 1960s Jackson, Miss., aspiring writer Eugenia Phelan crosses taboo racial lines by conversing with Aibileen Clark about her life as a housekeeper, and their ensuing friendship upsets the fragile dynamic between the haves and the have-nots. When other long-silent black servants begin opening up to Eugenia, the disapproving conservative Southern town soon gets swept up in the turbulence of changing times.
My Thoughts: "It's always a plus when a film does the book it is based on justice. I loved the book. I couldn't wait to see it played out on the big screen. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are fantastic in this film. Their strength and triumph to over come their tribulations is heroic and inspiring. Emma Watson is great as Skeeter as is Bryce Dallas as Hilly Holbrook. There is a part in the book where an intruder comes to Celia's home and I was hoping to see it on the screen because it was so funny in the book. But unfortunately it didn't make it. But a lot of the book did make it to screen. It's just as good of a movie as it was of a read. Great directing, performances, and of course writing makes this a film not to miss, and a book to read."