28 August 2011

Review: The Help

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: movie, Review

I’ve mentioned a few times before that most book to movie adaptations suck. So when a book I feel very passionately about is adapted in to a movie, I immediately fear it will suck too. Sadly, that is usually the case. And when I heard The Help was being adapted, I was very nervous because I LOVED that book. But now the movie is out and I had to see for myself, and here’s what I thought.

Movie: The Help

Rating: PG-13

Release date: August 10, 2011

Everyday Adventures’ grade: A-

Summary: In 1960s Jackson, MS, it’s standard for homes to have African American maids, many of whom raise the kids from baby to adult and work for households for their entire life. At this time in Jackson, three women: Skeeter (Emma Stone), Abileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) form a bond to try and break stereotypes from this time.

My thoughts: For me, the only other movie I cried as hard at was Up. When I read the book, I cried/sobbed at one part, but seeing the entire book acted on screen, I cried several more times, to the point where I was wearing sunglasses for the rest of the day because my eyes were so red.

I did enjoy this movie. It’s been a while since I read the book but I thought it was a pretty accurate adaptation of it too. There were a few parts within each character’s story that were cut back for time, but I didn’t feel that something was missing.

I had some initial casting concerns but overall, everyone was VERY strong. Bryce Dallas Howard wasn’t the exact embodiment of Hilly I envisioned, but oh my god she was good. She was cold, cutting and awesome to watch. She took that character over and made her as unforgiving and cruel as in the book but without even batting an eye. Emma Stone as Skeeter was good too. I have a bit of a girl crush on Emma Stone anyhow and despite tragic hair (which I didn’t envision either), I thought she would have a bit more spit and fire in her. But her scenes with Allison Janney, talking about the maid who raised her, made me weep too. She can emotionally deliver and make the reaction believable. LOVE HER. I did have a hard time watching parts of the movie, but given that it’s a depiction of what race relations were like during that time, that’s to be expected.

Of the other major leads, Viola Davis stole the show. I definitely smell an Oscar or at least Golden Globe nomination for her. I had the same sense about Melissa Leo too and was right. The heart, emotion and pain she brings to the character of Abileen is really visible and makes you become more emotionally invested in her character. Knowing how her relationship with her current charge, Mae Mobley ends, ugh, cut me so deep. That’s when the convulsing sobs came in. But she brought Abileen to life and made it hard to take your eyes off her.

I only had one drawback to the movie, which is difficult to articulate. I just felt like something was…missing. I loved that book, could not stop reading and didn’t want to, but when I watched the movie, something just felt off. I really think it’s that the transition from book to movie, you inevitably lose something, so that has to be it.

Verdict: If you read the book, see it or rent it. It’s worth it. But if you haven’t seen it, read the book first. Always!

1 Comment

  1. R. Seth Thibodeaux says:

    My mother was raised in a family like this with my grandmother being akin to Elizabeth, I think. I knew this before seeing the movie, though I have not read the book. My mother’s older sister said the book changed her life and she needed to go see the movie. I think it’s because a lot of things finally made sense in understand the relationship between my grandmother and their help, Alberta. While sitting in the theatre with my mother she became uneased a number of times, apparently these scenes played out in her childhood and overall she said she didn’t like the movie. I can put two and two together. I was fortunate enough to know Alberta as she worked for my grandmother (for almost 40yrs) until Alberta’s death in the mid-90s. It was a great movie and one that must be shared with everyone, especially kids like me who grew up in the South where segregation and racism is a very dark cloud and sorrowful burden we carry.

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