I love reading books that turn into movies before I watch the actual movie. By doing this, my expectations for the film version tend to be extremely high. So, it's pretty exciting when a film follows a book so well that it exceeds my high expectations. The Help is one of these films.
It's no surprise to me that The Help is up for so many awards. The story is great, it's full of emotional scenes, wit, and humor. It's set in Mississippi in the 1960s during the civil rights movement. The story focuses on a young woman Skeeter (Emma Stone) and her aspiration to become an author. Once she returns from college, she ends up landing a job writing a small cleaning column in her town's local newspaper. Since she knows basically nothing about cleaning, due to her family maid Constantine being solely responsible for all the cleaning. She'd love to ask Constantine to help her, but she is no longer working for Skeeter's family for reasons unbeknownst to Skeeter. Therefore, she decides to ask her close friend, Elizabeth, if she may interview her maid, Aibileen, for the column. She agrees to allow Skeeter to interview Aibileen and this ends up sparking the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Aibileen and Skeeter, as well as a collaborative writing endeavor between Skeeter and other maids in town who want to share their story about what it is really like to work for a white family. It also ends up shaking up Skeeter's long-term friendships with the other girls in town, due to them being awful people, especially the despicable ringleader of them all, Hilly Holbrook.
Emma never seems to fail at giving her all to a role that she is in, which is fantastic because it means that all of her movies are likely to be awesome. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer steal the show though, as Aibileen and Minny. They both play these characters exactly how I imagined them to act. Aibileen is super sweet and Minny is hilarious and definitely not afraid to stick up for herself. I also thought that Jessica Chastain (Celia Foote) and Bryce Howard (Hilly Holbrook) gave commendable performances. Celia is an interesting character, very nice and sweet, but a bit clueless at first about how mean women can be to each other. Hilly is one of the cruelest and most vile characters ever, I cannot stand her, in fact, I doubt that anyone would like her. I'm sure Bryce is nothing like Hilly in real life, which is why I find her performance impressive, especially since it's not overdone. Sissy Spacek has a small role in the film, but like always, she gives her all to it. If you are looking for a film to watch at home this weekend, then look no further than The Help. It will definitely be worth it if you are in the mood for a meaningful drama. Oh, it might make you cry, so keep some tissues nearby.