Monday, September 05, 2011

The Help

Terrific performances from a wonderful ensemble cast are the heart and soul of this dramatic setting at the dawn of the civil rights movement in Jackson Mississippi. When Skeeter Phelan, played by Emma Stone, comes home to Jackson and decides to write the stories of all the African-American "help", it ignites a flame in the town that will never die.

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are the first maids that come forward to tell their stories to Skeeter and these two women are incredibly powerful, each in their own way. Representing the white upper-class is Hilly Holbrook, played convincingly by Bryce Dallas Howard, who's social class and upbringing blind her to her racial bigotry. While Ms. Davis and Ms. Spencer are the heart of the film, you can't ignore the work of Ms. Stone (in her most mature role to date) who is both the anchor and catalyst for everything going on around her.

Allison Janney plays Skeeter's mother, raised to think one way but willing to change before it's too late. She is so well cast and has some great scenes of her own. Also co-starring is Jessica Chastain, who just continues to amaze with every role and Sissy Spacek, who also has some wonderful scenes as Hilly's mother.

"The Help" should expect at least six or more Oscar nominations and the biggest challenge will be who to nominate in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress roles. Every woman in the film so completely inhabits their character that the audience can't help but feel the emotions coming off the screen. I didn't read the book but I have to believe that the film brings these people to life in a perfect portrayal. Credit must be given to Tate Taylor who wrote the screenplay and directed the film.

"The Help" is cleaning up at the box-office and deservingly so.

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