The Help (movie) does The Help (book) justice
August 22, 2011 1 Comment
When I finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett earlier this winter, I couldn’t help but put it down. At the time I wrote my review, I was happy to see a movie was coming out – I just hoped that it could live up to the book.
Starring the amazing Emma Stone as Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, the story takes place in early 60s Jackson, Mississippi where racist tensions are at their thickest between whites and blacks. ‘Skeeter’ is a recent university graduate who really isn’t fit for the small town living int the south, and is looking to make it as a big city journalist, or writer. After some advice from a New York editor at Harper & Row, she finds an issue she’s passionate about, and that’s giving a voice to “the help” of Jackson.
One of the first maids to help by providing stories for her book was Aibileen, as played by Viola Davis. It’s Davis, along with Octavia Spencer as Minnie, that steal the show. Skeeter is the one that gives them the platform, but they’re the ones that bring the life and personality to the story. They’re also the ones that help gather the rest of the maids to help make the book a reality.
Minnie is such a strong woman and Spencer plays her perfectly – I’d even say it was an Oscar-worthy performance. Every time she was on screen it was hard to pay attention to anyone but her. In an ideal world, I’d say Viola Davis also deserves a nod for her role – it would sure be more deserving than that nod for Doubt.
The evil Hilly Holbrook, as played by Bryce Dallas Howard, has already been added to a list or two of top movie villains, so it goes to show you how disliked she is. What’s unfortunate, and I’m sure I’m not exaggerating, is that there were many Hilly Holbrooks across the States and even Canada. The story played it off as if all the other housewives were just sheep to whatever Hilly had to say, but she was probably closer to the norm for how many thought at the time. That being said, she was a great villain and Howard played her just as I’d imagined when reading the book.
I was worried the movie wouldn’t do the book justice after watching a few of the overly lighthearted previews. In the end, I’d say the movie did a great job of mixing humor with the serious racial tensions of the time and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. If you’re looking for a story that explains the racial tensions of the time, but one that isn’t too heavy for kids to watch, then this is a great place to start the conversation. I highly recommend reading the book first, then checking this one out. I give The Help a 5/5.