December 31, 2013.

This blog is now closed. After three years and 311 posts, I have decided to end this blog. I have enjoyed watching the films, reviewing them, and interacting with global readers.

If you are interested in contacting me, you can do so by commenting on any of the posts. The blog will remain live on the web.
Thank you to all the readers for your comments, ideas, and thoughts. They were helpful, stimulating, and enriching. This is Alene, signing off.

March 8, 2012

The Help (2011)

When it’s over, The Help served up a fresh perspective on the social unrest between African Americans and whites during the Civil Rights Movement.  Set in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960’s, the story follows a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (Emma Stone) and her relationship with two black maids.  After graduating from university,  instead of looking to get married like all her friends, Skeeter decides to pen a book about the maids (aka: the help) and the racism they face every day while working for their white employers.   The driving force in this film were the female characters, and credit definitely goes out to the talented actresses who portrayed them as well as the costume designer, Sharen Davis, who dressed them.   Details can make all the difference in whether a character is "flat" or "alive," and the details in The Help exceeded my expectations on every level.  Each character was unique and distinctive and was defined by how they wore their hair, the choice of colors they attached to their clothing, and the style of their clothing.  For example, Celia (Jessica Chastain) often wore bright colors with evocative cuts suggesting her vivaciousness, desirability, and rebellious nature.  Even though the maids wore almost identical uniforms, they wore them differently.  For example, Aibilene (Viola Davis) wore her uniform more fitted suggesting confidence and strength and she was someone who others looked to for leadership and support; Minny (Octavia Spencer) wore her hair tightly back suggesting her "don't give me no saucy lip" attitude and her uniform hung more loosely suggesting her temperament leaned more on the wayward side.  Although the male cast was less dominate in the film, their short scenes proved to impact and support the themes in the story as well as help define their female counterparts.   In short, a dream ensemble cast; actor turned director, Tate Taylor, breathed new life to Author Kathryn Stockett's beautiful narrative without fragmenting it; and a smartly adapted script (by Taylor) that redefined the boundaries of friendship, courage, and hope. 

My rating:  4 out of 5

1 comment:

  1. Have never read the book but I like this film. A good ensemble cast. My only criticism is that it is a very Hollywood cliche story, underdogs who overcome adversities in life.. they always come out the winner in the end, but not without the help of one socially conscious privileged person. Enjoyable characters though.