Can you stand another movie review on The Help? Doug took me to see it last Sunday evening. He had not read the book and he called the movie a tear-jerker. If you are an emo like Doug, you might take some tissue along.
If you are a regular reader, you will recall I read the book sometime back and wrote a review of the book. When it comes to movies vs. books, my advice is always read the book first! Seems often the movie doesn't measure up to the book. This movie takes a very close second to the book. It is fairly accurate to the storyline in the book.
Skeeter, played by Emma Stone returns home to Jackson, Mississippi after graduating from college. Upon her return, she learns the family housekeeper and the woman who raised her, Constantine, is gone and no one in the family will give her a straight story as to her disappearance. Constantine is played by Cicely Tyson and there is something about her character that reminds me of my beloved maternal Grandma Doris. Perhaps it is the way she is wrinkled and old and the way she smiles and the way she encourages and loves Skeeter.Skeeter's desire is to be a writer. She approaches Mr. Blackly, the newspaper reporter, (delightfully played by Leslie Jordan) who asks her to write a cleaning column- something Skeeter knows nothing about. Thus begins her relationship with the maid Aibileen, who is played by Viola Davis. (Fans of Davis may recall her brief but stellar performance in the movie Doubt when she played the role of the mother, Mrs. Miller.)
Skeeter develops a relationship with Elain Stein, an editor in New York city, in which she concocts the concept of a book written from the standpoint of the maids- the help. I was personally tickled to see Mary Steenburgen in her portrayal of Stein. Skeeter approaches Aibileen, as she is already talking to her on the sly, about telling her stories of how she is treated by white employers. For some time, Aibileen is the only one who is willing to talk. Then Minny, who always has plenty to say is the second to begin to talk to Skeeter. Aibileen opens her home for the secret meetings.
Skeeter's "friend," the hateful Hilly is played by Bryce Dallas Howard. She does a great job at being a racist, controlling, hateful person. One that adds a factor of humor to the movie is Sissy Spacek who plays Hilly's mother, Missus Walters. Missus Walters knows her daughter for her true character and has no problem calling her on it.
One character that I felt for was that of Celia Foote. She is delicate in nature, naive to a fault and doesn't understand how to play the games that Hilly sets up for her. The character from the book is captured by Jessica Chastain.Hilly believes she is the queen of Jackson and controls everyone that lives there. That isn't necessarily so.
One of the character's that I related to was that of Skeeter's mother, Charlotte Phelan, played by Allison Janney. I loved her spirit in the book even though at times she was over-bearing. (Isn't that the role of a mother?) And I loved her spirit in the book and the movie when she announces "I've decided not to die." Simple as that.
It sounds like something I might decide and announce to my children.
If you haven't read the book- read it! If you haven't seen the movie, go see it! Then tell me what y'all think. I. loved. it.