Starring: Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed By: Tate Taylor
Written By: Tate Taylor
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 26 min
Based on Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel from 2009, and adapted for the screen by her life long friend, Tate Taylor. The Help tells several stories about the people living in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960’s. The main focus being on the maids/nannies, and in particular Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer). But this movie is also about that period in history, and the cages society built around people. So while Aibileen and Minny are being told which bathroom they can use, Charlotte Phelan (Allison Janney) is forced to fire her maid in order to keep up appearances around her bigoted high society friends.
Films about this time period are often hard to watch, because it’s maddening that this sort or racist behavior was tolerated at all. And still is in some parts of the world. It’s hard to understand, speaking from a modern more liberal perspective, how people could treat each other that way, simply because the color of their skin was different.
The Help however, approaches this subject with a pretty light hand, and focuses on the positive steps these characters take to shine a light on their situation. In parts very funny and moving, and extremely well acted by its phenomenal cast, The Help gently tackles a difficult subject, while also satisfying the audience’s need to see the villain’s punished for their ignorant racist behavior.
Any complaints I have about this film are minor. At nearly two and a half hours, this movie is a little long as it tries to incorporate maybe one too many subplots. Jessica Chastain is great in this film, but her entire character’s story could have been left out, and The Help would have been just as effective.
If you’re looking for some well acted light drama, then The Help is certainly worth checking out. It doesn’t present the more ugly violent side of racism in the 1960’s, and even has some great moments of humor.
This is a very well made film, and would be effectively screened in HD at home on your TV, laptop or tablet.
There are a lot of great moments in The Help, as the cast are superb. But one stands out, and that’s when Minny delivers a special pie to her ex-boss, Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard). You’ll have to watch the film to find out what’s in the pie – but it’s a great scene!