Monday, August 12, 2013

Movie Review: The Help

Last week my mom and I watched The Help again. I think this movie might just make it to my top 10 favorite movies - of course, the main character being a writer adds about 100pts extra.

First off, for those of you who haven't seen this movie, I want to give a warning that there is quite a bit of language. (You can check out IMDb's ( content advisory on the movie if you prefer to read the content before watching something). A few of the words said aren't always mentioned in a swear-form, and others are said because it is relevant to the time, but at the same time it doesn't hide the fact that the language is there. Anyways, just wanted to point that out :)

Again, this is a movie review, and I haven't read the book so nothing will be said on that matter. I always try to avoid major spoilers in my reviews, though I will say there are a few plot points I mention in here. They don't really give anything away, however.

Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (love the nickname, Miss Skeeter) has just returned home from her 4-year college and finds a job with the local newspaper writing a column of household cleaning tips under the name "Miss Myrna," which she argues is at least a start. To help her write the column (since Skeeter isn't much of a household person), she enlists the help of Aibileen, a black housekeeper. Through this, Skeeter comes up with the premise for her breakthrough book - a book from the point of view of "the help." A dangerous idea, for both her and the black women who serve the southern families, she eventually recruits only two maids - Aibileen and her friend, Minny. However, as the story goes on and the truth behind the treatment of these women unfold, Skeeter and the maids find the courage to stand up to the prestigious, racist Southern women of prominent families.

Emma Stone plays Skeeter and is phenomenal; Emma has a unique edge in her acting abilities that makes whatever character she plays come to life with realism. Skeeter is a different character compared to her social circle of friends; she's independent, not focused on chasing down a husband, and sees the world through clear eyes (or wants to, at least). Awkward but confident, I felt a connection with her immediately as she pursued her writing dreams relentlessly and took a stand against the common view of everyone around her.

Viola Davis beautifully played Aibileen Clark, a quiet, sad maid who loves the babies she raises for the "white folk." Aibileen turns her focus not on the way she is treated, but in making sure the babies she cares for know they are important, despite the fact that their biological mothers don't seem to care for them. I'm sure many of you have at least seen her catchphrase floating around: "You is kind, you is smart, you is important." Her change from keeping silent to speaking out is both a bit chilling as you feel her pain and thrilling as you want to stand alongside her.

Octavia Spencer won an Oscar for her performance as Minny Jackson, and well-deserved it was. Minny was the maid who has trouble keeping from "sass-mouthin'" and can manage to laugh despite her circumstances. A to-the-point, strong character, she brought the best element of comedy to the movie - but careful. You'll face her wrath if you burn the fried chicken.

Other characters to note are Hilly Holbrook, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, a spoiled, racist character and best friend of Skeeter, and Celia Foote, played by Jessica Chastain (who was nominated for an Oscar in the role), a real Southern, bubbly woman who ignores the issues of black and white and treats everyone with kindness, though she's hated by most in the town for reasons I'll leave untold.

This is a solid movie. It has plenty of comical moments, made brighter by brilliant actors and actresses, but it also addresses the serious issues of racism during the 1960s. This movie certainly opened my eyes a bit and reinforced how disgusting the racial issues were - and still are in some places - in especially the South (the movie takes place in Jackson, Mississippi). Entertaining and thought-provoking, the story is a must-see.

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