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movie review: The Help

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This review is spoiler-free. (You’re welcome!)

Every time I read a book for which there is a movie counterpart, I am concerned that the movie will “ruin” the book. If you’re a reader, you know: rare is the movie that lives up to its book. Even more seldom, then, does the movie improve upon the book.

After reading The Help last week and seeing the movie tonight, I have to applaud director and screenwriter Tate Taylor.

Though Taylor did make some changes to Kathryn Stockett’s original novel and though he presented some surprises, they were all pleasant ones. Every plot detail he chose to tweak was conceived to improve the story. As a reader, I felt treated to surprises he incorporated into the movie. Little things, like innocent-looking pies, foreshadowed hints to what I knew was to come.

I went into the theater wanting to meet Celia most, as she was easily my favorite character in the novel. Having met the characters “in person” now, though, she is one of a handful of favorites. I loved Skeeter’s more outspoken nature, Aibie’s obvious love for all her children, and Minny’s rarely-shown tender side. The characters weren’t just dressed for the part, they became the people who’d formed in my imagination. Some of the minor characters were narrow, of course, but the ones I loved most were well-developed and satisfying.

What made me happiest was what I was struck with by the end of the movie. The strength of the theme: people are good. Maybe I’m idealistic (okay, I know I’m idealistic), but I want to believe in what Aibie tells her white babies: “you are kind, you are smart, you are important.” This movie told of horrific events in our lifetime, but it held the promise of better times to come.

The Help is rated PG-13 and is 137 minutes long. Its screenplay was written and directed by Tate Taylor, starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer. Watch a trailer, read the book if you’re so inclined, and go see it.

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About sisujones

I teach, I write, and I thought I'd be in high school forever. But really? I have no idea what will happen next.

2 responses »

  1. Great review! I loved the movie as well, though I haven’t read the book. It seems as if reading the book now may be a bit disappointing! I agree completely with the great commentary you made on the characters, and I think casting was brilliant in this film. You can read my review of The Help if you’d like, and comment and subscribe!

    Reply

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