¨If you can love your enemy, you already have victory.¨
The Help has received a lot of Oscar buzz and I wouldn`t be surprised if it gets many nominations, but I was a little disappointed after watching the film since I had such high expectations for it. The Help is a good, solid movie, but it just didn`t live up to all the hype for me. Racial and segregation films like this one have been made before with much greater effects. This film felt a bit light at times, and reminded me a lot of Fried Green Tomatoes. I can`t help but think this film could`ve been much stronger considering the strong cast it had and the social issues it was pointing out. The film is based on Kathryn Stockett`s novel of the same name, and it was adapted for the screenplay by director Tate Taylor himself. This is Taylor`s second film, after having made a small film three years ago named Pretty Ugly People. Taylor, a relatively unknown has jumped to fame with his work in this movie, but considering the material I think a good director could`ve brought so much more to the story. In a way this seems to be a light drama which is touching a serious and dark period for many people. There are some funny moments, but the movie is really long and drags during some periods of time. I thought that the last half hour was probably the best part of the movie and you end up leaving the theater with a smile in your face. It`s a good movie with some terrific performances, but I just was expecting so much more.
The Help is a reference to the maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the 60`s when racial discrimination and segregation was really strong. Civil rights movements had begun, but separation between whites and blacks was still very much an issue. The movie centers around several Southern society girls and the relationship they have with their maids. Skeeter (Emma Stone) returns home after college to take care of her sick mother (Allison Janney) and gets a job at a local newspaper writing housekeeping articles. Since she has no clue whatsoever about housekeeping she decides to interview the maids. Skeeter is sad to hear that the maid she grew up with and was like a mother to her has left to Chicago, but realizes there might be more to it than her mother is telling her. Skeeter is the only single girl since all her friends are already married and have children. Her best friend Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) is president of a local society and has come up with the idea that every family should have a special and separate bathroom for their maids. This of course, because of fear that they will transmit some sort of disease to their children. Hilly is very cruel towards her maid Minny (Octavia Spencer) and one day in a dispute fires her. Minny then finds a job working for a very nice lady named Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain) who`s just arrived back in Jackson with her husband and live in a huge house. She is very disorganized, but Minny helps her get the house organized. Meanwhile, Skeeter realizes how terrible most maids are treated and decides she wants to write a book about the help, but written with the maids point of view. Skeeter begins interviewing her maid`s best friend, Aibeleen (Viola Davis), who has had a lot of experience working with high society white families. Hesitant at first Aibeleen then begins opening up and convincing other maids to tell their stories to Skeeter and the result might shake things up for the residents in Jackson, Mississippi.
The best thing about The Help without a doubt is the performance from the entire cast. Emma Stone does a great job as the lead character fighting for the rights of some of the maids which have been such a great help to her, but at the same time realizes that her friends will probably be upset with what she`s doing. She still speaks what`s on her mind and isn`t afraid to point out the things that are wrong. She is very courageous. Viola Davis is just excellent and will probably receive an Oscar nomination. She also has a lead role in my opinion and she is just good in every movie she`s in. She does a great job at repressing the anger she sometimes feels after suffering so much injustice. Her friend Minny, played by Octavia Spencer, doesn`t do such a great job at repressing that anger and sometimes explodes. Spencer really surprised me in this film; she does a great job and absolutely nails her role. She will get a lot more job offers after this. It`s hard to pick just one performance because everyone in this film does such an outstanding job. Jessica Chastain is excellent in this movie in her supporting role and perhaps gives the best performance of all. She is sweet and naïve, but also feels broken due to her incapacity of bearing children. It`s really sad considering she probably would be a loveable mother, unlike the rest of the society moms who can`t even pick up their own kids and leave it all to the maids. I can`t end this review without mentioning Bryce Dallas Howard who is just so good at being bad, mean, and cruel. She truly is scary in this movie and plays an excellent villain. The Help is a good movie, I just was expecting a little more from the story, but still go see it.