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The Help

A movie directed by Tate Taylor

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With it's impressive directing, and the great set of performances, The Help is an unmissable feast

  • Nov 21, 2011

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 way. It's a movie that will make you smile, laugh, think and probably shed a tear. It won't break down bariers in filmmaking, it won't deliver the best cinematic experience but it will force you to enjoy the amazing set of performances in the film.

The Help is mostly about this group of black maids or helpers who, helped by a young aspiring journalist named Skeeter (Emma Stone), will cross lines never imagined by themselves in order to tell their honest and painful stories to the world. This sounds dramatic and it really is but the narrative structure of the film hides much more than just that. The characters are well built and represented. The details are both obvious and enigmatic. The cliches are there but they are barely visible. The variety of personalities is very well exploited in this film thanks to the wonderful work of these talented actors and thanks to the chemistry between them. The leading role, Aibileen (Viola Davis), represents the most self-controlled women in those times, the ones who had patience and who had found a blessing in their personal sufference. Viola Davis plays this role with an exquisite naturalism delivering not only a powerful peformance but also a honest one. A performance that will touch your sould from the very first moment. Her maid friend Minny (Octavia Spencer), who was also the best cook in Mississippi, represents the cheerful and the well-known funny aggressive attitude of the black women. She's full of jokes because that's how she can live through all the chaos and misery in her life. While both these women seem totally different they do share the same amount of pain and hope for a better future. They are both courageous women that fought not only for their freedom but also for their own identity since they did lost some of themselves while walking the strange paths that crawled into their lives.

Of course, in a movie in which the racial theme flourishes like this, we must have the villain, the one that feeds from their servants pain and begging. This unscrupulous and egocentrical person is wonderfully portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard who gives one of the best performances in her career if not the best. Hilly Holbrook is that arrogant, selfish, ignorant and self-centered young women that has her own sisterhood in the city. The one that loves to chit-chat and spread gossip around. The portrayal of Bryce Howard adds a somehow theatrical performance next to the naturalism displayed by the other two actresses. Both methods of acting being well displayed thanks to the wonderful addition of another impressive breakout of this year, Jessica Chastain, who plays Celia Foote, a silly, troubled, warm and funny young woman that is in desperate need of a way out of her daily rutine and sadness. She gets to play a big part in the lives of the maids, being part of the few that did see more than just colors. Funny how the educated and the ones that appeared to be in control of their lives were so blind towards this sample of humanity, while a "classless" and troubled woman found the strength to not only fight with her demons but also hug and love their so-called "enemy". But the story won't be full without our journalist protagonist, Skeeter (Emma Stone). A young writer that found herself always in an uncomfortable zone while being around the group of hyenas led by Hilly Holbrook. She aspired to the better so she did the best that she could. She trusted these women and arranged the best setting they could have had. She gained their trust and from that moment on, the wonderful relation between them led a tremendous act of courage. Emma Stone's performance seems to be the most blad and shallow. While she hit the right emotions and covered the role pretty good, she seemed kinda out of that place, out of that period of time. She looked too modern, she acted too modern, she was too excentric for that time that her character was not as believable as the rest. While her performance was the weakest I still find it pretty good since all the others are so good that they are already Oscar-worthy. Viola Davis is locked for the leading role and I think both Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard should be nominated for the secondary role category for their wonderful theatrical desplay.

The contrast of this film is also well displayed by the great usage of colors, cinematography, lightning, set-decorations and costumes. The delivery of the narrative content is blended with a visual force of bright colors which adds more to the great contrasts this movie has. The Help is surely one of the best movies of 2011 and holds probably the best overall display of acting. It might seem casual and repeatative in terms of storytelling but directing wise and acting wise this is a solid cinematic achievement. Filled with beautiful characters, powerful thematic nuances, impressive directing, and a great set of glazing performances, The Help is an Oscar material film that shouldn't be missed by anyone out there, cinephile or casual moviegoer.

Storyline/Dialogue: 8
Acting: 9.5
Technical Execution: 8.3
Replay Value: 9
Overall: 8.6

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November 22, 2011
Great review of an amazing movie! I couldn't agree more with you.
November 22, 2011
Thanks. Appreciated.
November 21, 2011
I missed this in theaters so I may see this on bluray or dvd. It sounds pretty intriguing....thanks, Julian!
November 22, 2011
Woo, you should definitely check this one out. It's prob my fave of the year! The book isn't half bad either ;p
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 . 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, …
review by . August 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
We could all use a little help
THE HELP   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 …
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.   …
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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
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"The Maids Tell All"
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