The Help, by far, is the most difficult film review I have ever tackled, mostly because of the sensitive subject matter depicted on film, from the book of the same name, by author Katheryn Stockett.
The Help is set in Mississippi, during the 1960’s and it is based on a compilation of stories gathered and recorded by an educated white socialite living during those events. It’s the story of a dozen or more black women, who were the hired help, if you will, for the white wealthy families in need of someone to take care of their children (among other things) while they socialized (among other things).
These black women, were not only subjected to segregation and a lifetime of suppression while they served, but were also disillusioned when their only hope, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated during their struggle for equality.
The film, I think is a remarkable piece of work and since I haven’t read the book, I am not sure if it is a pretty good interpretation of the story. The funny thing is, I have always appreciated period films revolving around the 60s, mostly for the costume and the abrasive attitude of the characters. So this film definitely lived up to my expectations. I can honestly say, The Help will surely be one of the most nominated films for the upcoming award season.
The most interesting film technique used by director Tate Taylor is that since the men did not play a major role in the film, most were invisible and the one’s filmed just to make an impact where either side profiles or from the back, which forced the audience to focus on the women in all cases. I loved it.
As for the actors: I think Bryce Dallas Howard did an amazing job portraying Hilly, a white socialite who is a force not to reckon with while dealing with the hired help and coordinating their integration into white society. Although she is a well known actress, her performance in this particular film has finally put her on the radar, in my opinion, as a truly talented actor.
I think every one of the women portraying the characters did an outstanding job, they each carried their weight and deserve at least a nod during the award season if not a group award. The entire cast ensemble should receive an Oscar for their dedication and portrayal of their individual characters. Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Allison Janey, Sissy Spacek, Octavia Spencer, Mary Steenburgen, Emma Stone and of course my old time favorite Cicely Tyson. Thank you ladies, you made the film all worth while.
I highly recommend the film, it is truly an outstanding piece of work and most memorable for this year. And ladies please bring your handkerchiefs.