Writer: Tate Tayler
Starring: Emma Stone
Bryce Dallas Howard
This film adaption of the popular novel of the same name, written by Kathryn Stockett, is nothing but a perfect retelling of the hard times in 1960's Mississippi.
The Help is an emotional and poignant story about the lives of rich white American families and struggling African American maids. It is set in a time where racism is still a huge part of society, and segregation is still a big part of peoples relationships. The mothers leave their children to be raised by the help, and so strong bonds are formed between children and the maids. These mother/child relationships makes the film that much sweeter, annd at times extremely emotional to watch. This strong bond has made one particular girl warm to the maids and the black community, and she wants nothing more than for everyone to be equal.
Skeeter (Stone) is a sweet, yet feisty young girl fresh from college trying to make it as an author. When she gets a job writing a cleaning column in the local paper she goes to her friends maid, Aibileen (Davis), for advice. Here an unlikely friendship forms, and together they start to write a book that exposes how the maids are treated by the rich families of the town. The relationship between these two characters is a very sweet maternal friendship, but the more heartfelt relationships are between Skeeter and her old maid, Constantine (Tyson), and Aibileen and her 'baby girl', Mae. Both these relationships show off the sweet bond between the maids and children, and also make for a few particularly emotional scenes.
Hilly and Elizabeth (Howard & O'Reilly) are the two housewives with the extremely bigoted point of view. Although, Hilly is very much the ringleader and Elizabeth and their friends just follow suit. Both characters are well played and make you both dislike them, but also feel sorry for them. Their warped ideas and ludicrous thoughts make you wonder how they were brought up and just how sad their lives must be to feel the way they do. Although, sadly that was the way most people thought back then which is a sad and sickening thought.
Minny and Celia's (Spencer & Chastain) relationship is another sweet relationship which develops after Hilly wrongly fires Minny. They both learn from each other and help each other through particularly hard times in their lives, and most of their scenes together just make the screen glow with talent. They are also, at points, the comic relief in the movie when some of their experiences don't quite go to plan resulting in funny results; also, Minny has one particular scene with a chocolate pie which is certainly worth looking for. One thing I must say about Octavia Spencer is that I have often seen her in film/TV with one line or just in the background which is such a shame, because in this film she shows what a phenomenal actress she really can be.
Charlotte (Janney) is Skeeter's ill mother who is so busy keeping up appearances she can't notice the wrong she is doing to her maids. She is a well thought out character who uses being 'perfect' as her way to ignore the fact she is ill, but in the process she hurts those she loves so dearly. In one particular scene involving her firing one of the maids, Janney's performance was so beautiful and pained it brought me to tears instantly. Missus Walters (Spacek) is the mother of Hilly, a woman who is clearly losing her mind and loves the maids like family. She is mainly there for comic relief, but the performance given by Spacek is still spot on and just what the film needed for that extra layer.
I really must commend Emma Stone & Viola Davis for bringing such life to their characters and really making the film an amazing piece of art. This is a far cry from anything Stone has done before, but it just shows what a remarkable fresh talent she is, and if they both don't at least get an Oscar nod, it will be a travesty.
The director (Taylor) does an amazing job at bringing Stockett's novel to life and not one moment of the film drags or feels out of place. This truly is an amazingly emotional and important film that really shows how racism used to, and in some places still does, effect people's lives. I wholly recommend it and I hope it gets all the recognition it truly deserves.