Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Help -The Review

USA (2011)

Get out your handkerchiefs ladies, this one is a tear-jerker for sure. It may surprise some how melo-dramatic it is. From the trailers one might be under the impression that this film is a funny comedy about mistreated, sassy black women and the white person who swoops in to save them from their troubles. But it is a bit deeper than that. It is not necessarily a movie for all people, and I can already predict some of the criticism. It is, perhaps, overly dramatic because everyone spends a lot of time crying (including a few in the audience). It is also extremely heavy handed with stereotypes. But overall, the things that make this film weak do not overshadow the things that make it good.

A film about race will always draw criticism from educated people on all sides of race relations. But honestly, most of those people need to shut the hell up. This film is not historically accurate, it is not trying to convince anyone of anything. The film does not speak for the entire civil rights era. At its core, it is a movie about a friendship between women. For once, there is a film about women who are less than perfect, who don't have fancy jobs in big cities, and closets full of shoes. Why do we have to argue about whether or not this film perfectly depicts history, when we can talk about how amazing it is to see some decent actresses in a decent movie.

Maybe I am the only person sick of films like The Ugly Truth and The Bounty Hunter. Maybe I am the only one who is sick of seeing Anne Hathaway in sappy, poorly written, garbage that they market towards women. Maybe I am sick of Sarah Jessica Parker being considered one of the great thespians of our age. Maybe I want something more. And I think you should want more too.

I enjoy films about down to earth women, the types who are not obsessed with their hair, and getting a man. I like seeing a different side of womanhood and I think this film does it more successfully than a lot of the 'chick flicks' you see today.

Skeeter (Emma Stone) is a head strong, ambitious soul discontent with watching the awful treatment of the black housemaids in her Mississippi town. She sets out on a passion project to write a book that is not only unprecedented, but also illegal and dangerous, about the women called 'the help.' Stone's performance was pretty darn good. I love her look, her voice and the way she presents herself. At 22, I am so surprised she carried her role as well as she did. It is great to see her in a more grown up role and I can't wait see what she does next.

'The help' includes seasoned actresses like Viola Davis, who plays Aibileen, and Octavia Spencer who plays Minny, both of whom have filmographies longer than most of the most of the ladies in Hollywood today. These two have such amazing chemistry and together their relationship is the power behind this film. Stone may have the name recognition, but Davis and Spencer are the talent that make this film possible. Aibileen is a quiet, stoic but powerful. She is experienced, smart and strong.  Minny is sassy, comical, and driven by emotion. But she is also a victim of spousal abuse and cruel treatment from her employer.  Together the two maids represent the discontent that was brewing in the hearts and minds of not only young black people, but the older generation unwilling to take inhumane treatment anymore. 

The Help 3

This film is good. If you are interested in films like these, then I think you will enjoy it. Just don't walk into the theater thinking you are going to learn anything about race or the civil rights era. Walk in thinking how great it is to have a film about women that doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator. 

It is also worth mentioning that the costumes are amazing

(B) I enjoyed it, but it will not suit all tastes. It is heavy on stereotypes and perhaps a bit melo-dramatic.

No comments:

Post a Comment