On a day in which I heard a woman on a beach in the US moronically mimicking a Chinese family’s accent (they sat less than ten yards from her) culminating in the line, “can’t they speak English”, and a man telling a women on the same beach that the watch she wore was a warning sign of a potential terrorist because it could be used to detonate a bomb (so could a box of matches you muppet), the importance of a film like The Help becomes much more than just retrospective.
Irrespective of the fact that it is a brilliantly scripted film with a host of exceptional performances, The Help is more importantly a reiteration of the corrosion of prejudice and the importance of empathy. It is funny and touching, insightful and inspirational, but ultimately it is a reminder of how things were, what has changed and what is till left to do.
The Help centres around Mississippi University graduate Skeeter (played by Emma Stone – Gangster Squad) as she returns home to Jackson, Mississippi after finishing college with the dream of becoming a writer. However, when she starts to see the levels of racism that surrounds everything that she has left behind, she decides to write about life in the town from the side of the black maids that work for her friends and family. With the help of maids Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) the plan starts to come together as the shockwaves of the Civil Rights movement sweep across America with Martin Luther King at its epicentre.
As impressive as Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are at portraying the nicer portions of the town, they are matched by the snooty narrow mindedness drawn out of their roles by Bryce Dallas Howard who plays “Home Help Sanitation Initiative” racist Hilly Holbrook, and Alison Janny who takes on Skeater’s stubbornly wrong-minded mother.
The trailer for The Help doesn’t really do the film as much justice as it deserves, being much more hard hitting than it looks. It cleaned up at the box offices in America, before being released in the UK on the 28th October 2011. The Help is a cinematic adaptation of the book of the same name by Kathryn Stockett, so while the film is impressive, the book is doubtlessly even more substantial. The Help was released on DVD on the 12th March 2012.
The Help film review: 4.5/5
The Help film trailer:
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