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The Help

A movie directed by Tate Taylor

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We could all use a little help

  • Aug 10, 2011
Written and Directed by Tate Taylor
Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard and Octavia Spencer

Aibileen: What if you don't like what I got to say 'bout white people?

Jackson, Mississippi has a rich history but it certainly also has its fair share of shame. Great turmoil does however make for great drama in novice filmmaker, Tate Taylor’s THE HELP, based on the wildly popular novel of the same name, written by Kathryn Stockett, one of Tate’s oldest friends. They grew up together in the South and their combined familiarity with the subject gives them the distinct perspective necessary to explore the complicated dynamics between white families and the black maids that kept them together. While it is perfectly acceptable for the maids to handle the dinner and the children, it is somehow unthinkable to have them use the same toilet. That's the way it was in Jackson in 1962 and even though some practices were just a step or two away from slavery still, everybody kept to their roles with big smiles on their faces. That's just the way it was done, the way it had always been done … until someone finally started asking why.

In the 1960's, America was in the throws of the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. led a quarter million people in prayer at the March on Washington and progress seemed achievable. Meanwhile, in the South, black men and women were being beaten senseless, or worse yet killed, for any attempt to push the civil rights movement forward. It was most certainly not a good time for a black maid to sit down and recount what working for white people was really like. It would seem even more ludicrous to share these potentially damaging stories with an actual white woman. Regardless, this is what Aibileen (Viola Davis) does when Eugenia (Emma Stone) asks her, not because she's always done what white women have asked of her, but because it was time. The stories she tells are both heartbreaking and heart warming, revealing just how complex these relationships truly are. There is love between some of these women, of that there is no question. And yet there is also superiority and ownership and perhaps most importantly, there is tradition. This is what all these women know. Change is not easy; making change is even harder.

There is so much unrest in these situations but you would never know. The trick is to never let on, a perfect glow must shine on the surface at all times. Of course, it is all terribly ironic that these maids are the ones to polish these particular surfaces. That said, there is plenty of shine in THE HELP. Taylor’s lack of experience behind the camera shows when certain delicate moments feel a tad rushed, but that hardly matters when the entire cast is this delightful and endearing. While it is refreshing to see Stone play something other than sarcastic for a change, and naturally Davis anchors the picture with great weight, it is Bryce Dallas Howard as queen of the white ladies, Hilly Holbrook, and lesser know, Octavia Spencer, as the feistiest of maids, Minny, who truly give THE HELP the punch it requires to become as memorable and enjoyable as it is. Collectively, the entire cast, rounded out by touching performances from Sissy Spacek and Alison Janney, maintain an air of ease, which is even more so commendable considering how they all know somewhere in the back of their minds that everything they know is about to change forever. The best part is that you can also see that some of these women know this change is for the best.

Thanks for reading.
LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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August 12, 2011
Bryce Dallas Howard may be enough to get me to check this out one day.
August 14, 2011
She is fantastic in this but then again, so is the whole cast!
More The Help reviews
review by . February 13, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**1/2 out of ****    During the early 1960's - at the time of the Civil Rights era - there were the upper class men and women, and then there were the Help. Who, and what, was "the help", exactly? Why, they were the household labor force, consisting entirely of blacks. Most of them were women. They acted as maids, servants, and perhaps even slaves to their superiors/employers; obeying every last order in fear of being disciplined if they failed to adhere. They lived dangerous …
review by . November 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Starting with a sensational cast and a talented director, The Help unveils the most usual and common racial theme in a customized manor. It transcends from being dramatic, powerful and heartbreaking to being funny, excentric and flamboyant in an unique and hilarious way. While it depicts a warm and thoughtful story about the 1960s racial era in Mississippi in which strong black women were treated so harsh by their "employers", The Help succeeds in being mature in a childish …
review by . August 11, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Based in the racially charged Deep South during the sixties The Help takes a look at the perspective of the hired help and what they were forced to grin and take during Jim Crow. The heart of the story is in the right place. Everything else seems to be scattered from the emotion to the narrator. This fluctuation may work for a book but in the movie the story seems to be all over the place.      The story itself is very convincing and connects itself to the audience. …
review by . June 02, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Entertaining and thought-provoking
The year is 1963, and Skeeter returns from college to find life as usual among her privileged set. She’s the only one in the Junior League who notices that the black servants must silently endure insults and degradation at the hands of their oblivious employers. She decides to write a book about how the help really feel about their jobs and asks to interview several maids. This is socially risky for Skeeter and seriously dangerous for the maids.   I loved the book and was glad that …
review by . August 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         The Help is extraordinary in the way it evokes an era and explores an unspoken but well-understood social order, specifically in regards to race relations. It takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, at which point the Jim Crow laws were still in effect – the segregation of public schools, public transportation, restrooms, restaurants, drinking fountains, movie theater entrances, and even the U.S. military. During this time, …
Quick Tip by . December 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I never ever watch these type of movies, but last weekend my surplus of redbox rental codes and lack of movie selection lead me to rent The Help. I'd heard all the good things about it while it was in theaters and still put it on the back burner. I'm glad i did finally give it a chance though, because it was an amazing movie! Its been a while since i watched a movie that held my full attention for the entire runtime. Needless to say i will be adding this to my movie collection this weekend.
review by . August 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Every once in a while a movie comes along that completely transcends entertainment. Based on a novel I've not read, The Help adds one more layer to the Civil Rights movement. The hardworking layer of the African American maids who lovingly raised the children of their employers and then suffered many of those same children growing into bigoted adults. Stories are shared, lives explored, attitudes revealed and the fictional account is likely just a tiny shadow of reality.   …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #26
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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There are male viewers who will enjoyThe Help, but Mississippi native Tate Taylor aims his adaptation squarely at the female readers who made Kathryn Stockett's novel a bestseller. If the multi-character narrative revolves around race relations in the Kennedy-era South, the perspective belongs to the women. Veteran maid Aibileen (Doubt's Viola Davis in an Oscar-worthy performance) provides the heartfelt narration that brackets the story. A widow devastated by the death of her son, she takes pride in the 17 children she has helped to raise, but she's hardly fulfilled. That changes when Skeeter (Easy A's Emma Stone) returns home after college. Unlike her peers, Skeeter wants to work, so she gets a job as a newspaper columnist. But she really longs to write about Jackson's domestics, so she meets with Aibileen in secret--after much cajoling and the promise of anonymity. When Aibileen's smart-mouthed friend Minny (breakout star Octavia Spencer) breaches her uptight employer's protocol, Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) gives her the boot, and she ends up in the employ of local outcast Celia (Jessica Chastain, hilarious and heartbreaking), who can't catch a break due to her dirt-poor origins. After the murder of Medgar Evers, even more maids, Minny among them, bring their stories to Skeeter, leading to a book that scandalizes the town--in a good way. Not sinceSteel Magnoliashas Hollywood produced a Southern woman's picture more likely to produce ...
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Director: Tate Taylor
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 12 August 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Tate Taylor, Kathryn Stockett
First to Review

"The Maids Tell All"
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