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|Index||411 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a person who'd just finished reading the book on which "The Help" is
based and who'd just watched the film, I'd like to say a few things
about the differences between the book and the film and how that
reflected on the story.
The film represents a much shorter version of the story than the book. The major differences, and the ones that I thought were NOT beneficial for the story, are as follows.
- Constantine's daughter is black, not white, like in the book, and all her background story is missing. This is not OK, because Skeeter's mum's reaction to her sudden appearance in the house in this case is hardly clear.
- Skeeter's mum tells Hilly off when she comes to her house, something that she didn't do in the book since she didn't even know about the book. The character of Skeeter's Mum, like it's done in the book, would have never understood the her daughter's book and would have never been proud of her daughter the way she is in the film.
- Also in the book Skeeter decides not to write about her mother had done. In the film she does.
- It's not also really clear that Skeeter's mum has cancer and that she's really ill.
- Aibeleen doesn't get a job in the magazine, like she does in the book, which I think is a shame because it represents new beginnings for her in the book. In the film she is basically left with nothing.
- Then there is Minny and Miss Celia. Minny actually saves her life when she calls a doctor when Celia has a miscarriage. In the film Mr. Johnny just says, "She got better after Minny appeared in the house", which in my opinion is sort of strange and doesn't explain at all why he says that she had saved her life and why he is so grateful to her and offers her the job for the rest of her life. It is therefore very unconvincing in the movie, when he does that.
- Incidentally, Celia in the book also never ever learned how to cook.
- Also, the whole ominous atmosphere in Celia's house, the air of mystery is absent from the film, which is a shame, as well as her frequent miscarriages (only one is shown and very briefly, without showing Minny's involvement, which is crucial) as well as Minny's constant fear of Johnny.
- It is also not shown that Minny is actually really scared to lose her job when the book comes out.
- Now, to Aibeeleen's son. In the movie he's "killed". By whom? For what? We don't know. In this case I think it would have been better to leave it the way it was in the book that his death was an accident. I can see what the film creators were trying to do, but it didn't quite work.
- Also, in the church when they congratulate Aibeleen on what she has done, they don't even lock the door a small detail that would have shown, how much they are all still scared, which, I think, is important.
- What I find is also quite important to the story and something that was hardly if at all shown in the film is Skeeter's social isolation after her fall-out with Hilly. That's the cost she paid for disagreeing with everyone else in town and for trying to do something about it.
- Also, how Skeeter's mother constantly criticized her is not shown, which would have added comic value to the film but also explained why Skeeter was so attached to Constantine.
- The story with Elisabeth, how she'd never really liked her child Mae Mobley and never treated her well is also omitted from the film. It would have been much more painful to watch Aibeleeen leave the family if we knew what she meant for little Mae Mobley.
What was also different from the book but what I DID like, was the cause of the conflict between Minny and Hilly, which was sort of unclear in the book: Hilly just started telling everyone else that Minny had stolen silver from her for no apparent reason rather than she wanted Minny to work for her. So I find that the thing with the bathrooms in the film actually works better.
What I also liked was the way the characters were cast, especially the character of Hilly, as well as Minny and Aibeeleen.
And the way love affair with Stuart was shown also worked well - it was much shorter than in the book, however the filmmakers managed to grip the essence of their relationship in a few scenes.
All in all, good effort. But the book is even better - more multi- layered and more powerful.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The year is 1963, and Skeeter returns from college to find life as
usual among her privileged set. She's the only one in the Junior League
who notices that the black servants must silently endure insults and
degradation at the hands of their oblivious employers. She decides to
write a book about how the help really feel about their jobs and asks
to interview several maids. This is socially risky for Skeeter and
seriously dangerous for the maids.
I loved the book and was glad that the movie is just as good. The cruelty heaped on the help by their snooty bosses is heart-breakingly portrayed. Bryce Dallas Howard was surprisingly good as the nasty queen bee of the Junior League and Emma Stone is refreshing and likable as the brave Skeeter. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer play Aibileen and Minny, two long-time maids who risk everything to contribute to Skeeter's book. They both give outstanding performances.
Life in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1963, is recreated in fine detail and the script is witty and honest. Highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved, loved, loved Viola Davis as Aibileen. She overpowered the
movie with the sense of her history and background through her sheer
presence on the screen. She'd just be standing there framed in the shot
and you knew what she'd gone through and how she carried the weight of
her regrets and sadness on her back. I can't rave about this
performance enough. She so embodied Aibileen, in a way even more than
what I imagined. Her last moments were stunning, saying goodbye
suddenly to Mae Mobley and the fear of leaving behind what you've
always known and loved. This to follow a dream you might fail at, but
either way your hope and faith says you must take the opportunity in
the name of all you have lost. In her walk down the road to the bus you
know without her saying that taking part in the writing of The Help she
has done all in her power for Mae Mobley's future and because of that
she has the opportunity to pursue her son's destiny to become a writer
herself. Through love and letting go of the hate and disgust she's put
herself on the road to a better future no matter what roadblocks she
faces. Hehe, yeah I got a lot of unspoken messages out of Viola Davis'
Jessica Chastain rocked Celia Foote! Even though a lot of what I loved about the character was slimmed out of the movie I thought Chastain really took every moment to embody Celia. The screenwriter did a solid job keeping enough about the character that her arc didn't feel choppy or all over the place. This gave Chastain a good foundation for the character but I feel like the actress worked well not only as her character but in conjunction with Octavia Spencer as Minny and with the cast as a whole. Her role was a rather physical one in comparison to Viola Davis who had to stand around and emote. Chastain really excelled in this aspect. Balancing seems to be a skill she excels at. Watching the second time I found myself even more moved by her entire story as her relationship with Minny was a powerful as Aibileen's relationship with Mae Mobley.
Sissy Spacek as Missus Walters rocked it! Wow! I could have watched an entire movie with her and Minny in some kind of Odd Couple or Grouchy Women knock off. She added such dimension I believe to both Minny and Hilly. In fact, I think she made the movie version of her character pop in ways the book version washed out. Cicely Tyson as Constantine Jefferson did the same thing for Skeeter except she only had one scene to do it. Talk about a master! From that one scene you got the movie version of Skeeter's motivation and the root of her ability to withstand her family and friends opinions and disapproval. The moving scene where she packs her belongings and touched Skeeter's height markings wow, nothing even need be said how much she loved Skeeter. I hate to write so little when the performances were so powerful but a lot of their accolades are directed to those they supported.
Ahna O'Reilly as Elizabeth Leefolt and Allison Janney as Charlotte Phelan were fine in their respective roles. O'Reilly portrayed Elizabeth as what she was a follower. Janney very subtly worked her role as Skeeter's mother. There were a lot of changes to her story arc and so there were changes to the character. I didn't love these changes but I feel like they were no reflection on the actress.
As for winning any of the Best Ensemble Awards I believe they are totally deserved, even with my criticism for some of the acting. This might seen hypocritical to some I don't think so though. The acting was solid in the movie. There was a lot of different elements to the characters and the plot to balance and if the director seemed to drop the ball at times that wasn't really the actresses fault. I guess what I'm really saying is I think the missteps I perceived were in the acting upon my first viewing were not acting problems so much as direction problems. Perhaps he was too close to the material or the people involved. Perhaps balance is not his forte. As a story lover some of the characters didn't quite jive with their arc on a specific level, but for most I believe it works on the more general one.
The movie was good. It didn't blow my mind like the book though. I would have loved to have seen a little more of the finer details transferred from the written medium to the visual. Still I think everyone ought to at least see the movie if you aren't one for reading. The cast is worth the effort.
To read more about the adaption of the book to the movie: http://yaykisspurr.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/which-skeeter-is-better/
If you have read and enjoyed the novel by K. Stockett, you won't be
disappointed by the movie, on the contrary you will love it, too. The
picture proves definitely up to the novel, that same entertaining and
sensitive touch is evident from the first shots, and it's very easy to
be drawn into the story and the characters.
Certainly, "The help", both the novel and the movie, does not have the sharp and dramatic edge of "The long walk home", and although truly committed while representing the condition of black maids working for white families during the 60's, some light is shed, in a way that racism and intolerance are to be counterbalanced by the idea that something could really change. Focus in on the womens' relationship, and also the contrast white-black is explored from a female point of view, around the themes of motherhood and the role of women in Southern society, inside a story where the male point of view is almost absent.
The movie is wonderfully acted, once having read the novel, I could not have thought of better interpreters, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone are exactly how I had devised Aibileen, Minnie, and Skeeter in my mind. It is as if the story and the characters I had devised in my mind while reading the book, were visually developing through the picture. Also the characters of Celia, Hilly and Skeeters's mother help compose a great female cast, and make the movie truly enjoyable from beginning till end. In the end, a movie definitely worth watching, in the same way as the book was worth reading.
I knew not much when the movie first came to the cinemas, but after seeing the trailer I was intrigued. I expected something a little less serious, but if the movie was in any way different than it is, it wouldn't be this good. The story is extremely difficult emotionally. It deals with a problem that was an issue not so long ago, and I believe that is what makes it so powerful. People who took care of their children, them, their entire lives were treated, by them, like slaves. No respect, no consideration for their feelings, their problems. I was actually considering leaving the cinema after 40 min because I got so enraged by how those women were treated I could barely stand it. Why was that so? Primarily, the acting. Every character in this movie was played to the point of perfection. Bryce Dallas Howard and Viola Davis were astonishing. One can feel nothing but hate for Hilly, and nothing but sorrow and love for Aibileen. Another staggering performance was the one by Jessica Chastain. I found myself wanting to jump into the movie and just hug that woman's character through and through. Such cuteness I have never seen! The only minor problem is Emma Stone who got a little lost in the sea of these marvelous performances. All of the above named characters simply "ate" her on the screen. One more name worth mentioning is Octavia Spencer. She was my favorite character. Strong and powerful, but also extremely gentle and frightened. As is presented, the movie's leading characters are women. Another thing that deserves an absolute A+ is the contrast of the exterior space and the interior of the people. The hairspray generation, the houses filled with thousand of colors and at the same time such dark and evil personalities. See this movie and take everyone you know to see it. It is powerful, staggering, at times hilarious, and it has a beautiful message. This movie will bring out the best of you, and surely bring out emotions.
Have I ever seen a movie in which males mattered less, apart from
feminist/lesbian niche products like "Better Than Chocolate"? When I
read Kathryn Stockett's book I thought that its description of an
all-female world would thwart its straightforward conversion into a
screenplay. I was mistaken. In fact, the males in the book were still
slightly more prominent, especially Minnie's abusive husband Leroy. In
the film, he is never seen at all, although to some extent he remains a
menacing presence. And the senator in the book, an old Southerner who
to the dismay of some of his guests suggests that the days of Jim Crow
are over, is completely omitted.
Leroy's absence obviously softens the film. Same goes for the rewriting of the character of Mrs. Phelan; her "conversion" to post-segregation mores makes her more likable for today's audiences (Klansmen apart). These changes turn the film into a typical feel-good movie. I think it will stand the test of time, both in itself and as a adaptation of a novel; whether critics will come to like it one day is a different matter.
On a different note, if you are a foreign speaker and naturalized Midwesterner, you will have some trouble understanding the black slang and even the speech of some of the white characters.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I was invited to a preview screening of The Help, I was unsure of
what to expect. This may be easier to understand when one takes into
consideration that Walt Disney Studios are responsible for the
distribution of a film that is targeted at the older woman, the single
hardest demographic to coax into cinema screens presently. Having read
the book, (read review here) I knew the director had a lot to prove. As
a fan I was wary yet excited at the evolution of this great book and
the reception it's had worldwide. It is an unfortunate truth that
Hollywood rarely makes the most of the projects it gets it's hands on,
in terms of quality at least thus, the concern for an international
bestseller making its way into the lap of Disney is an obvious worry.
However, I was pleasantly surprised. The film is a well-constructed piece that remains loyal to Stockett's text and demonstrates the fear, discrimination and seething hatred that seems to have been so apparent during the 1960′s of KKK riddled Jackson, Mississippi in a clear and poignant way. In contrast to other reviewers critiques, I did not find the film overly sentimental or sappy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Tate Taylor is to be credited for the realism he has managed to instill in the direction and in the screenplay, which he adopted from Stockett's text. For me, there were several outstanding performances, especially Octavia Spencer as outspoken Minny Jackson, the maid who rises above her many unfortunate choices in employer.
Bryce Dallas Howard is perfection as the evil, scheming Hilly Holbrook and Emma Stone as the well meaning Skeeter Phelan is wonderful to watch. Viola Davis is also excellent and brings to Aibileen's character the dignity and honour that Stockett communicates in the book. As to be expected in a film dealing with racism and segregation, there is much drama and disturbance but, unlike similar genres of film such as Mississippi Burning, there are many comedic moments that create equilibrium. Sissy Spacek makes a long awaited return to the screen in a hilarious and fitting performance as Hilly's dotty mother, providing the right balance of light- heartedness to an otherwise serious and very real subject matter.
Scenes to watch out for are Minny's famous pie scene from the book (readers will know exactly what I mean!), the 'camodes rather than the coats' scene and the glitzy reception scene which mirrors the false identity of all of Skeeter's white associates. Overall, the film is one of the best of 2011 so far and hopefully will serve to further the book's reputation. Well worth seeing I give it an 8/10.
All Rights Reserved © Copyright 2011 Michelle Lacey (Michelle Ní Láitheása).
In 1963, a young journalist and aspiring novelist returns to her
hometown, Jackson, Mississippi, at a time when the civil rights
movement is gaining momentum. Her job on the Jackson Journal writing
a column on house cleaning tips leads her into contact with the
experts: black women who are the nannies, cooks and housekeepers for
rich white folk. Thus begins an unlikely alliance that exposes the
indignities suffered by black maids at the hands of Southern belles who
ironically spend their idle moments raising money for African
charities. The ultimate revenge of the maids is both funny and gross.
The movie evokes many emotions; laughter, tears, anger and perhaps even
shame. There are wonderful performances by the maids, Octavia Spencer
and Viola Davis, who surely must be in the running for Oscar
The book on which the movie is based is pure fiction but the interspersing of historical facts the murder of a civil rights campaigner and the assassination of President Kennedy create the feel of a true story. The excesses of the era, from Ford Thunderbirds to the women's dresses and hairstyles, are authentically depicted. And there are real parallels between the fictional novelist (Skeeter Phelan played by Emma Stone) and the book's author, Kathryn Stockett, who was born in Jackson, raised by a black nanny, and who struggled to get her first novel published.
The movie can also be viewed as a social commentary on the times. As such, it has been criticized for its stereotypes, caricatures, hyperbole, even racism. Such a criticism would be valid for a documentary but not for a work of fiction. Perhaps the criticism is an indication that the topic can still hit a raw nerve.
While "The Help" has received TONS of great press and a ton of SAG and
other awards, I am also aware that there is some controversy concerning
the film. Some people have felt that the film was a bit
paternalistic--as it might be interpreted as yet another story of a
rich, enlightened white lady going out to help all the downtrodden
black folk. I am just not sure if I could see this or not--especially
as the black women in the film end up showing LOTS of strength during
the course of the film. BUT, I am also a white guy--and it's not fair
for me to automatically brand the film one way or another. Just be
aware that there are a few who resent the idea of this film.
I could discuss the plot, but LOTS of other reviewers have discussed this. So instead, let's talk about what I liked and didn't like. I liked the acting. The problem, however, is that giving any of these actresses awards is tough as it's such an ensemble cast. I can truly understand why the Screen Actor's Guild chose to award ALL the cast a joint award. The direction was very nice and the movie was well filmed. The script was also very nice--and quite inspiring. My quibbles are VERY small---very, very small. I felt that a few characters were a bit one-dimensional (particularly the lead villainess). Also, the ending of the film seemed to drag out a bit and wrapping it up a bit sooner. It wasn't a bad ending--but tightening would have heightened the overall emotional impact.
So my advice for you is to see this film. While I still think "Hugo" is the best nominated film this year, I can see the merit in "The Help" winning and "The Artist" sure seems to have a lot of momentum. So, do yourself a favor and see all three--all three are terrific.
Yesterday, I had a 3 hour break in-between classes, and a free movie on my AMC Stubbs card, so I went to the movies. Unbelievably the only thing playing at my time was one of the movies I didn't want to see, The Help. Isn't it funny how the movie you never want to see always turns out to be great? The Help is based on a book by the same title, and follows a young writer, in the mid 1960s, looking for an idea. At a party, she notices how horrible people are to the African American help and decides to write their story. Of course it's a scandalous idea that can get them all killed, but Skeeter finds one woman brave enough to tell her story. This movie is funny, heartwarming, and inspirational, not to mention the acting is top notch. Viola Davis deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance, which is one of the strongest I've seen all year. The Help is an amazing story, with a terrific cast, and a big upside. It has a unique and inspiring story that takes us back to a very tumultuous time in American History, and I can't recommend it enough!
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