Movie Review: The Help

When I read the last page of this wonderful book I sat for a very long time. Just sitting and thinking about the people in the book and those frightening years. It stayed with me for weeks.

I saw the movie last Wednesday and, at the end, I also just sat there for a long time. Now here it is, five days later, and it is still fresh in my mind. In my opinion, it’s a powerful story. It’s a part of our cultural history that should not be forgotten.

For those of you not familiar with the story, let me give you a quick synopsis. The term “help” refers to the black maids working for white women in Jackson, Mississippi in the sixties. A young white woman, Skeeter, returns home from college and begins to notice how poorly the black “help” are being treated. Skeeter wants to write about it. She partners up with first Aibileen and then Minny to tell their story. This was a very risky move at the time. The women are very careful to keep it secret. Gradually they enlist more black maids and the book is finally published.

The movie was superbly produced, written, and acted. I could tell they were trying to keep in tact the spirit of Kathryn Stockett’s book. There were only a few things from the book that were left out of the movie. They were minor and didn’t interrupt the story at all. I felt like the movie enhanced the book in that I could visually see the town, the houses, the cars, home interiors, clothing and hair styles. In addition, the dialog was spot-on. I was transported back to the sixties.

While reading the book, I loved the four main characters of Skeeter, Hilly, Aibileen, and Minny. Getting those characters right in the movie would be the breaking point for me. The actresses did not disappoint at all. In fact, they completely understood the characters and made them even better.

Emma Stone played Skeeter perfectly – just the way I read her.

Octavia Spencer (Minny) and Viola Davis (Aibileen) were the absolute stars of the movie.

Bryce Dallas Howard was excellent as the evil Hilly.

I also liked seeing some of my old favorites: Allison Janney, Cicely Tyson and Sissy Spacek.

Whenever I see that a movie is going to be made from a favorite book, I worry about it. Is it going to be as good as the book or will it disappoint? Often the movie doesn’t live up to the high standards of the book. But when it comes to The Help I’m happy to say that for this reader and movie-goer, it was E for Excellent. I give it a solid thumbs up. Have you seen it? What did you think?

*Photo credits: All photos from Internet Movie Data Base

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12 Responses to Movie Review: The Help

  1. Beth F says:

    The more movie reviews I see from readers I trust the more confident I am that I’ll love it too.

  2. Did you know that Bryce Dallas Howard is Ron Howard’s daughter? How could little Opie have such a grown up girl?!!!

  3. kaye says:

    wonderful review and comparison. I’ve got this book on my kindle. I guess I’d better hurry and get it read–or will it be ok if I see the movie first?

  4. I loved this movie too! When I saw it, the whole theater just sat there for a while. I plan to see it again. Octavia Spencer almost stole the movie in my opinion.

  5. Margot says:

    Jill, I did know that Bryce Howard was Ron Howard’s daughter. I could see the resemblance at times. I guess Opie/Richie is older than we thought.
    Kaye, In this case I don’t think it will hurt to see the movie first. You will still want to read the book.
    Kathy: I want to see it again too. I wish we could go together

  6. TheBookGirl says:

    I tried to get in to see this this weekend, and couldn’t. I am so glad to hear that this movie lives up to this wonderful book 🙂

  7. Our group really got a lot from both the book and the movie. Some things really play well in the movie and give it depth. Other things needed the expanded format of the book make it clear (in particular, we though the issue of hierarchical layers of power was more clear in the book).

  8. Amused says:

    I went on Friday with a girlfriend of mine who had also read the book and we both loved it. The whole audience was really into it. I agree, they did a fabulous job with the casting!

  9. JoAnn says:

    Don’t remember the last time I’ve seen such a great movie adaptation of a beloved book! Had no idea Bryce Dallas Howard is Ron’s daughter… can definitely see the resemblence.

  10. Barbara says:

    I want to see this movie badly, but unless it’s still on when the Little League World Series is over, I guess I’ll wait for Netflix to have it. 🙁

  11. I recently finished the book — had been meaning to read it forever and finally Kindled it so that I’d get it finished before I started reading the movie reviews (and I just made it)…..I wasn’t sure about seeing the movie, but after reading your review I do want to. (I pictured Minnie as much larger, but otherwise the characters do all look like they were well cast.)

    Some reviews have said that the book and movie gloss over what was really happining in the world (MLK marches and the horror of what was going on at that time) but I found the book absolutely reflective of what ordinary people’s lives would have been. Not everybody would have been out there marching and actively taking part in what was happening, but the book showed (I thought) how those events affected those who were staying home during this time when all these needed changes were happening.

  12. stacybuckeye says:

    I haven’t read the book but I loved the movie. I agree that the actresses were excellent.

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