‘The Help’ on Path for Oscar

Yes, yes, I know. This isn’t the typical Why So Blu movie review. We focus on pop culture flicks, usually consisting of comedies, science fiction, and kick-ass action films. The Help does not fall under any of those three categories. Yet, like last year’s The King’s Speech, this movie is too good not to talk about here.  Just like the article’s title says, watch for this film to be nominated for at least Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards.

Starring Emma Stone (Zombieland) and Viola Davis (Eat Pray Love), the movie follows one aspiring journalist and two black maids around the time of 1960 in Jackson, Mississippi.  Racial tensions are at a high, and in Jackson, affluent white families hire black maids to not only perform the house chores, but raise their children as well.  One woman in particular, Hilly Holbrook, played by Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3), is the town’s female ringleader when it comes to keeping the local black population under a controlling thumb.  The whole “separate but equal” theory is her motto, despite the contradictory sound and ridiculousness it carries.  Close friend Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone) quietly disagrees with Hilly’s mindset as well as that of Hilly’s other friends.

It is here when Skeeter strikes up a conversation with a friend’s housemaid, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), for help with a local housekeeping column when things progress into a writing far deeper than scrubbing floors and cooking.  Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan sees the blatant mistreatment of the black women serving their white employers.  While it’s 100 years removed from the War Between the States, it’s almost as if slavery still exists in a slightly different form.  Skeeter begins interviewing the maids in secret and compiling their stories in an attempt to awaken the masses to their plight.

Where do I go from here?  Trying to think of which attribute of this film to start with is like giving a little kid ten shiny presents at Christmas time.  The story, based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same title, is as solid as they come.  The directing, courtesy of Tate Taylor, known more as an actor than director, performed a brilliant occupation behind the camera calling the shots.  The writing (screenplay by Tate Taylor) was equally magnificent while the acting should certainly draw some golden statues even if the picture itself does not.  Emma Stone was awesome.  Viola Davis, awesome.  Film friend and fellow maid Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) was also on par with the cast, while the aforementioned Bryce Dallas Howard excels in her near-villainous, antagonist role.

What The King’s Speech was to 2010, The Help is to 2011.  While the situation endured or involved here wasn’t as global as The King’s Speech, it wasn’t any less noteworthy on the big screen.  Okay, just as a side note as I will concede and say Colin Firth’s acting from TKS is not outdone here, but nevertheless, these women performed their acting duties in such a stellar manner that the 2-hour, 17-minute production is worth revisiting if not buying on Blu-ray when the time comes.

This movie is about courage.  It’s about respect and doing the right thing.  It’s about seeing the truth which is occasionally the proverbial forest through the trees. If the phrase “chick flick” scares you off, toss your premonitions aside.  Without question, The Help is easily deserving of two thumbs up from any audience.




1 Response to “‘The Help’ on Path for Oscar”

  1. Loot

    Fantastic review! Very well said. This was one fantastic movie and told a great story that so many of us are either oblivious to or choose to ignore. I hope more people go see it, even though it was No. 1 for 3 weeks straight. It is definitely not a chick flick but terrific for all the reasons you wrote about.