The Help is a film based on the widely popular book written by Kathryn Stockett that centers on a couple of black maids in Jackson, Mississippi in the 60’s. Director Tate Taylor makes a relatively smooth transition from book to film. My expectations were not what you would call high. In fact, I readied myself for a couple of hours of uneasiness and boredom. However, the mere level of effectiveness to which the film was executed was enough to keep me engaged. I fully expected a chick flick exploiting the touchy subject that is racism and a tear-jerker to boot. It might have been all of those things, but not in an exploitative way. There was some element of delicacy to which all of it was handled and it certainly didn’t go too far overboard on the hokey factor. That is to say I was able to overlook it for my own good. The Help was not nearly as corny and sappy as I was expecting it to be. The idea of race from this perspective is a sensitive subject, but I believe the film isn’t naïve and tells the story without ignoring the elephant in the room and without shooting it, either.
Perhaps the highest praise I can give the film is the performances of a loaded cast including: Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek and Octavia Spencer. It’s no accident that the aforementioned stars are all females. Indeed, there are very few males in the film. This is a movie about women and for women as one can tell by the huge success of following that the book as garnered. However, it doesn’t kick the males out of the theatre if they’re interested.
The Help has its issues. It needs a good 20 minutes of editing. The cuts are obvious. There’s a storyline involving the love interest of Skeeter, played by Emma Stone, that if cut would make things flow more smoothly. This relationship is not pertinent to the film and is slightly unbelievable due to the disastrous nature of their first date and the quick turnaround and subsequent chemistry between the two throughout the film. Also, the quick nature of which the relationship itself ends further supports the weakness of the relationship itself. Cut it.
All in all The Help is a success. The acting alone is worth going for. Viola Davis has a slight chance at