Up until I heard about The Help’s release as a movie a month or two ago, I’d managed to miss all the brouhaha surrounding the release of Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name, and therefore didn’t even know it was previously released in book form.
I promptly jumped online to devour the racial criticisms on blogs of the book, and so was expecting a similarly clichéd film.
Much to my delight, the film manages to steer clear of most of these stereotypes, though in some parts, such as Minny miraculously deciding to take her five or six kids and leave her abusive husband, and the standing ovation the local black church gives to Aibileen and Minnie, who defied the social norms of the time and told their stories as undervalued and blatantly discriminated against “help” to Emma Stone’s Skeeter, are pretty unrealistic.
But Jessica Chastain’s Celia Foote, the naïve, Marilyn Monroe-esque housewife outcast from the social scene in Jackson by fellow stay-at-home wife Hilly Holbrook, played wonderfully by Bryce Dallas Howard, stole the show. She showed that not all white people felt disdain towards the black “underclass”, making them use a specially-installed outside bathroom and take separate taxis, which is one of the main driving plotlines of the story.
I can’t talk this film up enough. While it’s not the best movie ever made, it’s one you should see regardless. Also, look out for cameos by Private Practice’s Dell and True Blood’s Lafayette and Sarah Newlin. And make sure to bring the tissue box!
*It has come to my attention that I give away too much in my movie reviews, so the asterisk will now serve as a blanket *spoiler alert* from now on.
Image via YouTube.