Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Help: Two Very Good Reasons to See the Movie Based on the Book


Updated: October 28, 2017 
Make that 3 reasons to watch it! For today's Saturday Matinee I'm dragging this post from December, 2011 back up from the archives. At the time, as you can see from the headline, I noted there were two good reasons to see the film. This is the first time I've revisited this post and I see in retrospect I need to add Octavia Spencer to the list. I’m not sure how I missed Spencer’s knockout performance, I just remember I was blown away by Violet Davis and Jessica Chastain. What I didn't know then is that while all three would be nominated it would be Spencer that won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.


Having fallen in love with The Help as a book, I was tremendously excited they were making it into a movie.
When I heard Emma Stone was playing Jeeter, I was, er, sorry, whaaaaaat? But curiousity got the better of me and I too plonked down my $12, contributing to the $166 million the movie has netted so far. And, yes, Stone was fine. Her funny little mouth with its slightly protruding teeth, the fair skin and freckles all helped her to portray the serious and conflicted Skeeter.
Tomorrow, if you're one of the holdouts, you can see for yourself; the film comes out on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Emma Stone's performance aside, I could quibble that the movie failed to capture the dark essence of the civil liberties battle, that it stepped a tad little too lightly in its search for laughs and feel good 'dramedy', that it blithely accorded way too much power to one little white girl and not enough to the real heroes, the black men and women themselves.

All true but despite that, there are two very good reasons to see The Help. One, Violet Davis, and two, Jessica Chastain.



1) This is another brilliant performance from Viola Davis, (Doubt) a performance that may garner a Best Supporting Acrtress nominaton. Mahnola Dargis said in the New York Times,  "Ms. Davis keeps her cool even as she warms your heart and does her job, often beautifully. She doesn't just turn Aibileen, something of a blur in the novel, into a fully dimensional character, she also helps lift up several weaker performances and invests this cautious, at times bizarrely buoyant, movie with the gravity it frequently seems to want to shrug off." She's also in the next movie I can't wait to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and has just wrapped up Learning to Fly alongside Maggie Gyllenhall and Holly Hunter.




2) Playing an abbreviated version of Kathryn Stockett's Celia Foote, Jessica Chastain is being talked about as the next Meryl Streep. She appeared opposite Al Pacino in his play Salome, he raved about her to Terrence Mallick who cast her in Tree of Life, she's in The Debt, also out on dvd tomorrow and the upcoming Coriolanus opposite Ralp Fiennes in his directorial debut. The New York Film Critics Circle awarded her this years' Best Supporting Actress and she's also slated for Mallick's upcoming untiteld film so we all need to know who she is!

The Help is available on iTunes, Amazon, Googleplay, and Vudu. I don't know about you, but I'd like to reread the book.

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