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Reviews & Ratings for
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Best Film Of The Year It Was Released

Author: Intern2014 from United States
4 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Help is a film adaptation of the novel of the same title by Kathryn Stockett. It features an ensemble cast that includes Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Sissy Spacek, Mike Vogel, Cicely Tyson and Allison Janney. The movie was adapted for the screen and directed by Tate Taylor.

The film is about a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, and her relationship with two black maids, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson during Civil Rights era America in the early 1960's.The three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. From their improbable alliance a remarkable sisterhood emerges, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed-even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the changing times.

Though arguably guilty of glossing over its racial themes, the film rises on the strength of its cast.Outstanding performances and a delicate approach to racial tensions make this film a cut above other inspirational period dramas.Aimed at heart and conscience, it may have overdone moments but remain worthy of close attention.Perfectly written, acted, directed, and produced, it's as moving on its fiftieth viewing as on its first.Definitely,the best film of the year when it was released.

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Was This Extreme

Author: jimmyro from Israel
28 March 2013

"The Help" is a must see. It tells of the extremely uncomfortable to watch, racist, beyond 'Jim Crows', mistreatment of all the maids in Jackson, Mississippi. The acting is great. The picturesque setting is in contrast to the ugly goings on in the domestic lives in the households of the middle class southerners life. The good 'White Folk' are evil doers when it comes to matters of race, and the blacks are all angelic good innocent victims. I find it hard to believe that even in the deep south's racist capitol of Mississippi, their wasn't a righteous family to be found in Sodom... But sometimes you need to exaggerate to the extreme to get a point across, and Hollywood is good at that.

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Enough to be really good, but not really great

Author: tdbrooker from United States
19 March 2013

There are only three films I saw that ever reached the same level of greatness as did the books they were based on: "To Kill a Mockingbird," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and "The Exorcist." Coming close, but just missing were "Jaws" (no fairy-book ending for Richard Dreyfus's character in the book) — and "The Help."

Yes, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer do a fabulous job. Yes, Emma Stone is vivacious, spirited and fetching. But Bryce Dallas Howard makes a caricature of the sinister, racist-to-the-core Hilly, and the movie never gives enough time to see the poignant turn-around Skeeter's mother accomplishes, nor lay out the real dangers the servants faced by telling tales out of school.

Much of the book's comedic effect is also lost. Some great lines in the book are dropped. ("He was drunker than an Indian on payday".)

Celia's white-trash ferocity as she possibly saves Minny's life was also skipped over, diminishing an already diminished role in the movie.

These are just a few of the several disappointments with the cinematic version, none of them fatal to the experience, but letdowns nonetheless.

Still, this film can't help but satisfy because the book it is based on is so incredibly strong, and the times it depicts are so indelibly emotional. Wisely, the movie takes full advantage of being able to do what a book cannot; the real-life footage of the Medgar Evers murder, TV clips of civil rights marchers being beaten, the rousing news reels of Martin Luther King — all hit on a gut level where a book cannot, especially for those of us who lived through them and saw them first-hand.

My overall advice: See the movie first ... then really treat yourself by reading the book. One is a great appetizer; the other is the full meal.

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Lacks the books' sense of urgency.

Author: Dory_Darko from Netherlands
7 March 2013

I just watched The Help, almost immediately after finishing the book. Now, when comparing The Film to The Book it was based on (generally speaking), one major rule of thumb almost always applies: The Book is better. The Help is no exception.

Accordingly, with the novel still so fresh in the back of my mind, separating my mind from the book in order to enjoy the film was an almost impossible task. No matter how hard you try, you just can't quit comparing the two, nitpicking every detail and being frustrated with everything they changed. Nevertheless, I was still able to enjoy the film for what it was, though I am glad that I possessed full knowledge of the actual story.

The Help tells the story of black domestic servants in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi. It focuses on white Miss Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan, and her efforts to give a voice to black maids by writing their stories from their perspective and thus giving them an opportunity to be heard for the first time in their lives. Among the black women, Aibileen and Minny are the two key characters.

So let's just get the "bad" stuff out of the way. One of the elements in the novel that I enjoyed the most was the incredibly delicate bond of trust and understanding that builds up (over an extensive period of time) between Aibileen and Skeeter. It really does take Skeeter a long time before she finally wins Aibileen over and convinces her to share her deepest feelings with a white woman. In the film, this process felt rather rushed, like Aibileen just woke up the next morning and decided to do it. What bothers me about this is not just the fact that (oh, cliché) it was "better" in the book, but mostly because the film forgets to underline WHY it took so long. Not only is it much more clearly explained in writing that these black women face an incredible danger in divulging their true feelings about the white women they work for, the film also fails to capture the palpable tension and sense of urgency of the book. These women aren't just risking their jobs, they are risking their lives, AND the lives of their loved ones. They're in danger just for being seen talking to a white lady. I found this to be a rather big flaw of the film.

The film also lacks a lot of the character development I was hoping for. Quite a few character changes were made, so that in the film they all just kind of appear out of nowhere, and more or less seem to go about their business without – again – the big "why" of it all. One of the most underexposed characters was a woman named Celia Foote, who is a poor white trash girl who married way out of her league – and because of it, has to face the constant disgrace and condescension from the other stuck-up, "sophisticated" white ladies. Celia is just the sweetest, loveliest person in the entire story, and her relationship with her maid Minny is heart warming. The fact that they barely included this in the film is a real shame.

OK – if I keep comparing the film to the book, this review will never reach its end. Obviously, there is a lot more I could (and certainly want to) say, but it's not really relevant to the effectiveness of this review. So, moving on.

At least they got the actors right! Each and every one of them was cast spot-on to their character. Emma Stone is wonderful as Skeeter – capturing her youthful daring and naiveté perfectly. There's also something about her voice and attitude that make it clear that this girl is different from her snooty bridge club peers. Viola Davis is the perfect Aibileen – all I kept thinking was, damn, she should have gotten that Oscar. Her performance is very moving and heartfelt. Octavia Spencer did actually win an Oscar for her role as Minny, and it was well deserved. She is exactly as I imagined Minny to be – sassy, smart-mouthed and with an attitude that could render any white woman speechless, even if it means losing her job a dozen times. Celia Foote is played by Jessica Chastain, and I fear I'm at risk of doubling over in superlatives to describe how perfect she was, so I'll just leave it at this.

The Evil Witch in this story is Hilly Holbrook, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. I'm not sure how big of a compliment it is to say that she is very good at playing a snide, cunning racist – so let's just say she is a very good actress. Another actress worth mentioning is Allison Janney, who plays the role of Skeeter's mother. Though she is not quite like I imagined her the way she was in the book (there we go again...), I always enjoy her performances very much and this one's no exception. Oh, and Sissy Spacek plays Hilly's mother, and she is a delight to watch. I got the feeling that the director extended her role to a little more than what it was in the book, just to give her more screen time. I don't blame him.

Overall, the film is properly paced and reasonably well-constructed, though some creative liberties are taken here and there considering the timeline. In comparison to the book, it is a little disappointing, but I can't think of a single book-to-film adaptation where this wasn't the case.

I still rate The Help 8 out of 10, because I think it is an important story to be told and the performances are stellar, but if you have a little more patience, I strongly recommend reading the book instead.

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With a cast of fascinating characters at its center and a strong screenplay to accompany it, "The Help" does a great job at showing the importance of expressing one's self

Author: Chris Mizerak
21 February 2013

One of the most important reasons why writing in general is a very good life skill is because it is one of the many ways in which we can express ourselves and tell everyone else how we are feeling and explain why we are feeling this way. Editorials and reviews on certain subject matter, like what you are reading right now, are great examples of writing on a personal level. Sometimes, it's definitely tough doing so given the backlash you think you will get from what you write. In the end, it's good to express issues and concerns from both sides regarding a certain issue. A great example of a film that demonstrates the importance of this theory effectively is Tate Taylor's racial drama, "The Help".

The film is set in Mississippi in the early 1960's and centers around a young white college graduate (Emma Stone) who has just landed a job as a journalist. When she has learned that her favorite childhood maid (Cicely Tyson) has quit working for her family and notices that her friend (Bryce Dallas Howard) has an extremely negative attitude about African-American maids, she decides that she wants to write a book about the lives of these maids and learn more about what they undergo on a daily basis. Among the maids who agree to share their experiences with her are a maid (Viola Davis) who has lost her son and forms a special bond with the daughter of the white woman she works for, and another maid (Octavia Spencer) who is a good cook but has an unfortunate reputation of being fired frequently due to her back talk.

The biggest reason why I enjoy "The Help" as much as I do is really because of the ensemble cast and the characters they play. Emma Stone is a very likable actress and I enjoy her in most of the films she's in, but I think that this is probably her finest role yet. On top of the fact that she successfully proves that she's capable of this sort of dramatic acting, her character is interesting as well since her motivations regarding why she is writing this book make her credible. In fact, I'd like to see Stone in more dramatic roles in the future rather than in comedic roles like in "Easy A" or "Crazy, Stupid, Love." since I know she's got great potential and has good looks to accompany it. I also thought Viola Davis gave an exceptional performance in this picture and her relationship with the daughter of whom she works for was very well handled. I liked the connection that they shared and that the kid liked spending time with her more than she enjoys being with her actual mother. This relationship also effectively demonstrates the struggles African-American maids have with raising the kids of white housewives and how it affects them emotionally.

Bryce Dallas Howard seems to be having a blast playing the cold-hearted, racist antagonist and she's enjoying every minute of being on screen. Octavia Spencer also turns in an impressive performance as a maid who may be too honest to everyone around her, for better and worse. I also liked Jessica Chastain's performance as a Marilyn Monroe type housewife who is shunned by all the other women in the area who hires Spencer to help her with her cooking, but treats her with much more respect than anyone else who's hired her. Most of the ensemble cast which also includes Mary Steenburgen as a writing editor and Sissy Spacek as Howard's more patient mother are very good.

I would be lying to my readers if I said "The Help" was without flaws since there are a few, but they're not too hurtful. One criticism is that Allison Janney's Southern accent in her role as Stone's mom is kind of obnoxious. Another criticism and probably the aspect of the film that I most could have done without is the romance between Stone and Chris Lowell as her boyfriend. This part of the film feels much more forced and sort of puts the plot to a halt. While it's not really terrible and doesn't dominate the picture at all, it was unnecessary in the plot to begin with. The main reason to see a film like "The Help" is for the sake of the talented ensemble cast and the colorful characters they bring to life. "The Help" is also well worth seeing for the main moral which inspires us that writing is an important means of expression and a way of making your points of view heard to other people. Even if you're not a fan of racial dramas, I honestly think you should check it out so you can have a better perspective of whatever overwhelming dilemmas these characters undergo.

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Life has changed

Author: Thanh Tam Trinh from Vietnam
20 February 2013

Frankly saying that I know nothing about racist. I'm too young and was not born in a country which people hate each other just because of their races. I've heard about Martin Luther King Jr. and his speech but I didn't care about it...until I watched this movie due to my teacher's suggestion. "The Help" is something that I can't imagine. We have maid and some of us treat their maids well but some will not and maids in my country are somehow respected because it's difficult to find a loyal and good maid now. Those black people, they would not turn bad if their masters wouldn't treat them as a property. They are all people, we are all people. I just can't imagine how you can treat the others that bad! I cried at the end of the movie :'(

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amazing movie.

Author: vanity corps from Oregon, USA
16 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

By far the best movie I've ever seen in my life. I definitely recommend this to everyone. The titanic didn't make me cry, the vow, or the notebook. but I can honestly say this movie impacted me more than any other. amazing acting, amazing actors were chosen. just over all, props to everyone that had to do with the making of the movie. I'm not even an African American, and this just made me cry for a good 30 minutes. if you are trying to decide weather to watch this movie or another one, this one is definitely the one for you :) It doesn't matter if your heart is sensitive or not, i guarantee you will cry. So if you don't want to cry, don't watch it :) thanks for reading!

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The Help

Author: Jose Espaillat from United States
13 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Help (2011)

Definitely a great movie about a writer telling the point of view of the African-American maids who works for white people in the 1960. I think the only problem with this was the begging because it was a little bit slow, but this is an excellent drama with a twist of comedy sometimes, is brilliant and really good, the performances are beyond perfection, a clever screenplay and the plot will "touch" your heart (or maybe teach you something) after seeing a little bit of what people pass in the past just for be black but also the love others can show even when they don't have to.

For more info:

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Town, movie

Author: annasloanfeigler from Mississippi
27 January 2013

Okay... So a lot of people lot this movie and a lot of people don't like it! I for one love this movie... It's even more special to me because a lot of the movie was filmed in my town! I know just about every thing/place you see! I knew a lot of people that helped in the movie or had their house, car, children, etc.

This movie is based in the 60's about racial issues! It really is a great movie movie it's not just a chick-flick it is also a movie that history buffs or just the average person would love! It really does tell a great story! And if you still have not seen this movie you really should! I know the movie has been out for a while now and I'm just now making a review but better late than never right?!?! Well I really do recommend you see this movie! And if you really do love this movie then you would probably like this the old historic small town it was filmed in! It's small and not too much to do but there is the blues trail that will take you all around Mississippi! So any way you would probably love this movie

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addressing the criticism

Author: Lee Eisenberg ( from Portland, Oregon, USA
19 January 2013

When I first learned of "The Help" - having never even heard of the book - I almost immediately heard conflicting descriptions of it. The praise was that it was a thought-provoking account of the Civil Rights era. The criticism was that it gave white people most of the credit for the movement and relegated blacks to the roles of servants. Now that I've seen it, I'd say that there's some truth to both descriptions. Part of what we see is that the white employers put on the veneer of civility but clearly view the black servants as beneath them.

There is the problem that the end story is basically through the eyes of a white person telling the stories of black maids, so it does seem to be giving her extra credit. But in the end, I think that the movie came out very well. Octavia Spencer - who won Best Supporting Actress for her role - is particularly good (especially when you see the trick that her character plays with the pie).

The movie also forces one to think about the current state of race relations in the United States. We may have a non-white president and the younger generation may be the most colorblind, but can we be certain that racial tensions aren't simmering beneath the surface? All in all, I recommend the movie.

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