The movie The Help opens in theatres today. Based on the bestselling book of the same name The Help will grab you from the minute you sit down and not let you go until the credits start rolling. It is a movie that will touch you, anger you, maybe make you feel a little ashamed and make you cry, all while serving up a healthy dose of laughter. From the opening scene of the movie when I started tearing up, I knew that this was going to be a good one.
If you haven’t read the book yet, which I haven’t (but will promptly be buying) The Help is about a young woman named Skeeter, played by the lovely Emma Stone, who wants to be a serious journalist. The film takes place in 1960’s Mississippi – a time when most young women were less concerned with becoming career women and more concerned with hosting bridge club and making babies. Skeeter, after becoming more and more disturbed by her friends' behaviour and attitude towards ‘the help’ decides that she wants to write a book chronicling stories from The Help’s perspective. Now she just needs to recruit some maids to help her write their stories, a difficult task given the volatile era.
Enter Viola Davis as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minnie who play maids to two of Skeeter’s friends who reluctantly decide to help her out. The trio embark on secret meetings where Aibileen and Minnie recall the tales that surround their life as maids – both good and bad. Skeeter earns the trust of the women as they break all of society’s rules to expose what life is like when you’re the help.
As far as casting goes, I will say right now that if Viola Davis doesn’t get nominated for an Academy Award it will be a crime. Her eyes alone paint a hauntingly real picture of what African American women in 1960’s Mississippi must have experienced. Her portrayal of a maid who spends more time raising white babies than their mothers do, will reduce you to tears on more than one occasion. Octavia Spencer’s character Minnie provides some of the films funniest and most laugh out loud moments, and together they are a force of character, determination and friendship that provides some of the best onscreen moments that will keep you talking long after you leave the theatre.
The entire cast of this film was incredible, including Bryce Dallas Howard who plays her racist Southern Belle Hilly Holbrook to evil perfection. She is a constant reminder that sometimes racism can be pretty and perfect and wear the proper shade of lipstick. Screen legends Sissy Spacek and Cicely Tyson both appear in the movie and while only for a shorter period of time provide some of the most funny and moving scenes. Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of Celia Foote gives you someone to root for as she proves that not everyone is like the Hilly Holbrook’s of the world.
I know they typically say that books tend to be better than the movies they are derived from. I have heard from many of you who have raved about the novel The Help and I will definitely be picking it up now because if the movie was this good, the book must be phenomenal. I don't know if you read the book first if you will love the movie as much as I did, but I can't see why you wouldn't. I saw The Help with my girlfriend Tracy who is currently reading the book and both of us couldn’t stop talking about it after.
Life is too short to spend good money on bad movies, so if you want to see a good movie worth the price of admission this weekend, please go see The Help. I promise you, you won’t be sorry.
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