Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Help

Movie Name: The Help
Year of Release: 2011
Director: Tate Taylor
Stars: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O'Reilly, Cicely Tyson, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Anna Camp, Mike Vogel, Brian Kerwin, Leslie Jordan, Aunjanue Ellis, Chris Lowell, Mary Steenburgen
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

"The Help" adapts the best seller of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. The film follows the story of Skeeter, a young woman from Jackson, Mississippi, who comes back to her hometown after being in college, during the 1960s. Skeeter longs to be a serious writer and starts writing advice columns for the local newspaper. She realizes that Jackson, Mississippi is ruled by old conventions and that the inequalities that always existed between the two main racial groups are still rampant. She decides to write a book from the perspective of the help, a group of African-American women who always cared for the houses and children of the white privileged society of that area. She enlists the help of two women, the strong but silent Aibileen and the sparky and spunky Minny, both of whom work for women who Skeeter knows, in particular the stone cold Hilly. Their book, changes the lives of everyone in that small community.
Tate Taylor has a career built mostly as a character actor, having only two other directing efforts to his name. With "The Help" he has decided to touch sensitive issues in the history of civil rights movement, of how life used to be for African Americans in the south of the country. The film captures a time and the changes that were coming, with President JFK and Martin Luther King. "The Help" is mostly a female perspective of very agitated times, and wisely focuses it's attention on the three main lead characters: Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. Around them a plethora of women try to adjust to these changing times, some resisting the change and being hypocritical, which is the case of the cold Hilly, some being genuine and embracing people for who they are, like Celia. The film though limited in some of the cliches that displays, it allows for great work from some great actresses, namely Viola Davis as Aibileen, Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly and Jessica Chastain as Celia. An interesting film that showcases a slice of history, from a different perspective.