This is why we should should program robots to help us instead.
In 1960s Jackson, Miss., aspiring writer Eugenia Phelan (Emma Stone) crosses taboo racial lines by conversing with Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) about her life as a housekeeper, and their ensuing friendship upsets the fragile dynamic between the haves and the have-nots. When other long-silent black servants begin opening up to Eugenia, the disapproving conservative Southern town soon gets swept up in the turbulence of changing times.
To be honest, I wasn’t too stoked about this when I first saw the trailer and poster for this, but after awhile it was a chick-flick that started to interest me more and more. Thankfully, it did because this a film that the guys don’t wanna miss.
I haven’t read the book that this film is adapted from, and it seems like I don’t really need to since there is a whole lot here that is brought up, shown, and never lost throughout the whole film. This is a lot of thanks to writer and director Tate Taylor who does a great job of fleshing out all of these characters wonderfully and giving us that little emotional roller coaster that most of us were already expecting after seeing the trailer.
Race relations is always a bit of a touchy subject, no matter what the time is, and here they don’t try to sugarcoat anything really. They just tell the story for what it is and bring out some beautiful moments as to why we can all get along with one another. There’s an old-school feel to this film but it still works because I was very touched by what these black maids did and how far they got just by telling the truth. It may sound a bit gay from my description right there, but it’s not all that bad, trust me.
However, the biggest problems with this film lie within it’s direction. Tate Taylor is good when it comes to the writing but there are long periods of time where we don’t see certain characters for almost 10 to 20 minutes at a time as the film is constantly jumping around to each story left-and-right. This became an annoyance after awhile because I felt like they could have cut out more scenes where it was just all these characters together, or just one central character for about 5 minutes, not a scene that lasted for about 15.
I also had a problem with the time-limit as well. I didn’t keep on checking my watch because I was bored and wanted to get out of there, I kept on checking it because I realized that this damn film was going on for about two-and-a-half hours. I was getting so annoyed by just how long every scene was and by the time the film was over I felt like I was in there watching that for about three hours. This may sound a bit like me bitching, but honestly, it was long.
The cast is amazing here and got me through a lot of the rough patches in this film, especially Viola Davis who needs that Oscar. Davis plays Aibileen Clark and turns in a raw performance that just shows how well she can carry a film, and make almost rather predictable story-telling seem totally moving no matter what you’re about to expect. Another show-stealing performance here is from Bryce Dallas Howard as the complete racist, Hilly Holbrook. Her evilness may be as subtle as Cruella De Vil but the way Howard completely lets us believe that a woman could be this evil and mean towards other humans, totally had me wanting her character told to go and shove it. Which, when you’re playing a villain/bad guy, is a good thing.
Emma Stone is good as Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, even though she kind of is forgotten about when you think about the rest of the cast; Octavia Spencer is perfect as the wise-ass but vulnerable, Minny Jackson; Jessica Chastain was a total delight as Minny’s silly employer, Celia Foote, and every scene these two have together just made me like the film more and more by how perfectly acted they both were; and Allison Janney is also very good as Skeeter’s mom. Sissy Spacek also shows up in this film as Hilly’s mother and is by far the most memorable out of the whole cast, and had me happy knowing that legends like her can still do great roles like this.
Consensus: The Help goes on way too long and seems a little choppy from an editing stand-point but the cast makes up for all the flaws, and the story itself keeps you glued and ends with a fairly predictable but pleasing send-off.