Movies based on books seem to be one of the current popular trends for movies these days. This past Wednesday, The Help released in theatres and quickly has been making headlines left and right as one of the best movies of the summer. My movie posse and I just saw the movie last night and I’m here to give you some info about this good movie.
For those who have not read the book or seen the trailer, The Help centers on the lives of black maids working for the elitist class in Jackson, Mississippi. One maid, Aibeleen (Viola Davis), tells her perspective of the life maids’ live and their feelings on the jobs they do every day for their employers. However things soon begin to change when aspiring journalist Skeeter (Emma Stone) returns from college and decides to stir up a little trouble for her “friends” while attempting to stand up for the maids by creating a collection of stories from the servants. Once the book is suggested to Aibeleen, the movie portrays the development of the book and the lives and motivational forces that drive the others to participate in the project.
So is this movie worth the hype that it has been receiving? In my opinion, yes I think it is worth the hype, but probably not worth a perfect score that some critics have been suggesting. To start off, this movie is an accurate portrayal of life in history that’s not too overacted, or loaded with cheesy dialog. Instead the story is brought to life by a great cast of actresses whose characters add their own flavor to the plot of this movie. Emma Stone surprised me with the role she played in this movie, playing the serious, dedicated, and loyal writer instead of some wacky, one liner spewing, teenage airhead role she is famous for. Viola Davis seems a natural as Aibeleen, delivering her dialog with emotional drive without crossing the overacting line too often. Octavia Spencer, who plays Minny, helps bring some sassy, take no crap, humor that had most of the audience, including me, cracking up. Bryce Howard, no longer playing Victoria, plays an evil, arrogant southern witch, who had me seething during the movie as she drove the plot of the movie. Jessica Chastain however, was the southern belle on the opposite spectrum, who was kind and genuinely good as she attempted to do things for herself and those that she loved. The rest of the cast was great as well, but these five really made the movie come to life for me and kept me in to the movie.
The acting was not the only thing that kept my interest in this movie though. For one thing the director of this movie found a way to take multiple stories and intertwine them with the main story to provide multiple tales to follow. Throughout these stories the dialog was fantastically written to fit with the scene, often injected with some humor to break the emotional tension building up. Minny’s participation in the various tales probably entertained me the most as one instant she was the wisecracking maid and the next at mercy of some other character, a good representation of the two sides to the maid back then. Also laced throughout the movie is background on the main characters, which is slowly revealed over the course of the film instead of all at once. The gradual revelation baits one’s attention and keeps you roped into the movie to find out more.
Perhaps the biggest strength of this movie though is how everything flows together to capture and bring the emotions of the characters to life. The camera work is beautifully shot from a variety of angles that best capture actions and expressions of the characters. The soundtrack as well was properly selected in this movie, each score/track helping bring the audience into the mood of the scene. Both of these factors, combined with the brilliant acting mentioned early, sends one on an emotional roller coaster ride that may cause one to tear up, as it did to three of my friends. And although I didn’t tear up, Taylor and his team managed to really drive the morals and lessons of this story right in my heart, which made me feel good by the end of the tale.
There are also some bad aspects to the movie, the biggest for me being the a few dragging parts throughout the movie. Another aspect that is hard for me to enjoy is some of the cruel things that one sees in the film. Yes, I know these scenes are supposed to make you hate, or pity the characters, but too many of these scenes gets me hot under the collar and makes me enjoy the movie less. The ending as well may have been a little bland for me as well and kind of left me hanging and wanting more of a conclusion, despite the strongly delivered monologue.
If you get one thing from this review tonight it should be that The Help is one of those movies worth seeing in the movies, particularly with a group. Those looking for great acting will be pleased with the cast and characters of the film. Fans looking for an emotional story and rich character development are also in for a treat with this film. After analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the film, I give this movie a 9.0. However as a final warning, people who tend to cry should bring a box of tissues. Until next time folks!