Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Help (First Impressions) (Movie Reviews)

       With all the garbage movies that Hollywood releases all the time, it’s such a wonderful treat to see a truly great movie like this. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett and it makes for a great reflection on a period piece (in the case of this story, the civil rights movement of the 1960's). “The Help” is the kind of movie people need to see more often, take a break from all those fun comic book, action, comedies and adventure movies and see a film that’s really powerful and gives you a lot to reflect on and think about. The plot revolves around several different stories, (three in particular) that intertwine to explain how life in early-1960s Jackson, Mississippi revolves around  the intimate quarters in which whites and blacks live, (there is always a certain distance between them because of racial lines). At first I thought this was just going to be a standard great film about racism like “Men of Honor” or “Remember the Titans” but the film actually gives us more drama then I was expecting. There’s people debating on weather black maids should be allowed to share the same bathrooms that the whites live in, we have a maid steeling from her master to pay off bills but unfortunately is arrested and beaten and there’s a person who’s tragically lost three children to abortions and is now trying to make up for what she’s done by creating a better and more respectful person for herself.
       Then we have a girl named Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan who’s trying to live her dream as a writer and help the black maids who helped raise the white children and were closer to being family then their own parents. We see this through a maid named Aibileen Clark, who’s lost a son and now is looking at this little white girl (that she nurses) as a doubter, and in return she’s looking at her as a mother. The bulk of this film is a book that Skeeter is righting, it’s a diary of the black maids and how they view the people they’ve served. The performances from this very well rounded cast are so convincing, passionate and pure that they all disserve their own little academy awards. Emma Stone (from “Easy A”) is just so pure and innocent in the role of Skeeter, she really is a very talented young actress and I hope she does more like this. My favorite character is Minny Jackson who’s played perfectly by Octavia Spencer. This is another black maid who’s going through her own hard ships but is so energetic, loveable, everything she says ranges from insightful to hilarious and the way she maintains this balance is absolutely flawless. But the biggest and most effective performance goes to Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark who’s emotional and moving performance caries the film so well that she definitely deserves a best actress award (or at the very least a nomination). Finally, Bryce Dallas Howard is very effective as the town's snooty ringleader, boy did I want to throw a pie in her face.
      There are some rather funny moments that feel a bit uneven with the overall tone of the film (one pie eating scene in particular) and that’s the only real problem I have with the film. Having a few comedic moments in a film is fine but there are one to many moments that just feel so out of touch with the overall mood of the film that you begin to wonder if you can take it seriously. Regardless, the drama is still very strong and heart piercing. I’m not someone that gets teary eyed often but this was one incidence ware the drama was so strong that when the movie was over, I couldn’t even get out of my seat because it was so effective. All the themes regarding racism, morality, courage, companion, making up for past mistakes, and standing up for what’s right (and plenty of other things) are all so powerful and moving that I really can’t do the film justice in a single review, you just have to see it for yourself. “The Help” is an intense and moving, tear jerker of a drama that brings to life this true, dark time in our history as well as exploit both the sufferings and hardships people went through and it gets my highest recommendation, two thumbs way up!   

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