The Help – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

the helpThe Help – 3.5/5 – This is a review for a movie that came out a few years ago.  I have watched this film on occasion, but never really got around to writing a review for it.  After sitting down and watching it again, I thought it was time to actually write a review.  This film is a very poignant film, about a group of maids during the civil rights movement.  Through this film, you get to see the truth behind many things, but overall, you get to see a remarkable situation that will move you, along with entertain with a strong aspect of American History.

Premise:  An aspiring author, by the name of Skeeter Phelan, decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids’ point of view on the white families during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.  What entails is a culmination of hardship, virtues and ideals pushed the limits, as truths are told, and the revelation that for all blind ambitions, the real convictions will triumph.

There are many actresses in this movie, but I will focus on the main four.   For majority of the film, it focuses on these four characters:

Local aspiring writer Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone)

Southern woman/mother and friend of Skeeter, Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard)

And the main ‘Help’ for the family, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer)

These four women help define the purpose of the film.  Even when they aren’t interacting with each other or anyone else, when the camera focus on them and their individual characteristics, we are provided with an unique perspective on the civil rights era in America.  As Skeeter, Emma provides a witty but progressive woman, who wants to drive a division (in a good way) into her home town of Jackson, Mississippi.  She wants to reveal the truth behind all the stories the help has, and show how arrogance in the white woman of the south.  Opposite of this is her friend Hilly Holbrook, who represents those white women.  She shows you how they are blinded by color, and obstructed by their own pious methods.  Howard does a marvelous job in giving us a deceitful but egotistical housewife, who is both discouraging and raw in her blinded conviction.  You believe her idiotic mentality as you see it through interactions with friends, the help, and her initiatives to drive further with segregation.  As we turn to the main focus of the help, both Minny and Aibileen are wonderful characters, created with breath staking ability by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.  They help show you that these maids are the real backbone of these southern households, regardless of pay and ridicule they face every day because of the color of their skin.  Both are presented as strong woman, as they give you a stern perspective, but a gentle heart on the movie screen.  Outside of these four, mostly all the other supporting cast are cliché of the 60s era south.  Everything in all the other characters is very common to what you think the south would be like.  Out of the rest of the supporting cast, the one stand out is Celia Foote, played by Jessica Chastain.  She does a great job in providing a unique but flawed woman, who appreciates the help more than chastise them, like her fellow women in the film.  She doesn’t care about the ideas of ‘segregation’ and rather have a friend then just another person that helps around the house.

The direction of the film is one based around perspective.  What I mean by this is that the film focuses on a stationary era of America, the 1960s/civil rights era.  Through this, you get the perspective from the ‘segregated influenced’ white, the black community and the help, and the progressive views of Skeeter and Celia.  Through this, you get a layering of feelings, thoughts and visions that are both helpful and endearing.  I am not going to go into much detail here on how the film progress or its overall depth or climax, as the main focus of the film isn’t much on the story, as it is the themes and lives that are encountered.  The focus of the film is the everyday life being built off the backbone of these hardworking maids from the black community.  It is a jarring theme, but it is also revealing of the truth, as you watch as the good comes from the hard work, and the blind just seethes on their level of status instead of conviction.  This plays thoroughly throughout the film, and helps keep it grounded to reality, but also give a reflection of history.  Through the interaction between Skeeter and the help, the help and arrogant white woman, all the way to when Minny becomes the maid for Celia, you realize the layers of all in full force, and enjoy every minute of it.  The only complaint I have is that when the film has a steady focus on these themes, it trails off to sub-plots that aren’t really necessary (aka Skeeter’s love life).  Other than those particular parts, the rest of the film culminates in great ideas and moving perspectives.

The cinematography of the film is wondrous but leveled.  You have a great aspect of 1960s Jackson; from the buildings, homes, all the way to the attire worn by the citizens, you realize that you are a part of this era.  The leveling aspect is how the film never drowns everything with the colors and sights of this time in America.  What the direction does is molds the visuals as ‘everyday’ life, bringing to you an encapsulated feeling, so you can bring forth emotional chords when needed.  The score is mute to an extent, but when needed, it comes through and helps add flavor to the pie.

The Help is a very unique but endearing film, which will move the hearts of some, as well as entertain others.  If you’re into era style films, and one that are emotional to the core, this is one for you.  I’d definitely say buy if for your collection, a great film to watch for the family.

2 Responses to “The Help – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

  • Great review; however, I would have given it at least a 4/5.

    • I would have given it a 4 … if it wasn’t for the unnecessary subplot … but it was a great movie overall

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