The Help (2011)

The Help
Director: Tate Taylor
Writer: Tate Taylor
Based on: Kathryn Stockett’s novel
Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Ahna O’Reilly, Anna Camp, Sissy Spacek

1960  in Jackson, Mississippi: Aibileen (Viola Davis) is a maid who is currently working for the Leefolt family, where she especially loves taking care of Mae Mobley, the Leefolts’ little girl. Her best friend is Minny (Octavia Spencer) who – quite contrary to Aibileen – usually gets in trouble because she won’t hold her peace. Which is not the best course of action for a maid. But when the white Skeeter (Emma Stone) looks for a maid to talk about her life, so she can write a book about it, it’s Aibilieen who jumps at the chance.

The Help is pretty much the perfect Christmas movie – sentimental, sweet and even more of a tear-jerker than the book (I was actually surprised that this was possible). A very nice way to shed some cathartic tears, despite a few weaknesses.

I had two main issues with the movie. One was that at times it started to oversimplify things a little bit (especially when it came to Constantine and her story. Where in the book the reasons for her dismissal seemed incredibly outlandish and weird and not immediately understandable from what you know of the racist beliefs at the time, in the film they didn’t even try to make you see how far things went – they just invented different reasons).

The other thing was the casting of Emma Stone. I don’t mean to say that she was bad in her role – but Skeeter’s character is very much defined by being tall and not very pretty and most of all tall. Emma Stone is pretty and while not very short, she’s not very tall either and it bugged the hell out of me. Especially every time Alison Janney fussed about her because of her size.

But other than that I really enjoyed the film. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer were great and Jessica Chastain’s Celia was the perfect mix of sweet and sad and silly. [Also, what a nice departure from Jessica Chastain’s usual roles. Good to see that as talented an actress as she is, she gets some diversity, too.] And Allison Janney, of course. But with that cast, it is not surprising that they rocked.

And the story just lends itself very well to the film format. That was already apparent from the book and Tate Taylor’s colorful adaptation really proves it.

Summarising: you could do very much worse than to see this film.


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