And no offense boys, but it’s sort of lame that the summer blockbuster season is so testosterone-heavy.
So as we bring our summer film fest to a close, this one’s for the girls (who don’t need capes to be super), and boy is it a good one:
It’s said that the key to good journalism is objectivity.
Of course, objectivity isn’t always so simple.
In 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi, objectivity meant crossing a line and picking a side.
The Help, directed by Tate Taylor and based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett, dives head on into a society divided by race, fear, and blind hatred.
Abileen (Viola Davis) has a sad story, one shared by many other black women working for white families in the South.
A truly touching performance from Viola Davis. She breaks your heart and inspires you all in the span of a moment. This is a woman who is tired and angry but hasn’t lost her sense of humor or strength of character.
These women spend their lives raising other people’s children, only to have them grow up and have children of their own, for them to raise.
“Skeeter” (Emma Stone) was one of those children. But while all of her friends were off getting married and having kids she was at college becoming a journalist.
Emma Stone continues to impress in this movie. As Skeeter, she’s smart and sassy but respectful and professional. She’s just fun to watch.
As the plot unfolds Skeeter returns (after four years) with a degree and a fresh perspective, one which neither her mother (Allison Janney, wonderful as always) nor her circle of friends, led by the queen bee Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), are particularly fond of.
When Skeeter goes to Abileen for help on her cleaning column (her first journalism job) and is forbidden by Abileen’s employer, a “friend” of Skeeter’s, the imbalance of the world she grew up in becomes all too real.
With nothing but nerve and a little bit of naiveté on her side she sets out to tell the story of these women.
It takes a great deal of persuasion and some unfortunate circumstances, but with the help of Abileen and the feisty (and talkative) Minny (Octavia Spencer) Skeeter gets to tell their story, and a bit of her own along the way.
Minny’s story and Octavia Spencer’s performance are awe-inspiring. She is loud and opinionated and funny. Her timing is perfect and her attitude is contagious.
After being fired by Hilly, Minny ends up being hired on by the social pariah Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain).
As Minny teaches Celia something about cooking, Celia teaches Minny something about the way things could be.
The world we see in The Help looks just familiar enough to be unsettling, a reminder that people once (not that long ago) lived this way and had these ideas about the way things work.
It’s not easy to watch a movie like this. It’s not an easy subject.
I imagine the same could be said about writing a movie like this.
In a world defined by black and white, there’s a lot of gray area, and this movie glosses over some of it, but still gets the message across.
There are really good characters and there are really bad characters, with a handful in the middle capable of change.
They may not all be likable, but they are all memorable, and whether you love them, hate them, or simply can’t understand them, odds are you’ll find something to connect with in this movie.
There’s a refrain which Abileen repeats daily to the little girl she’s caring for.
It goes, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.”
The same could be said of this film. It has heart and more than a handful of great performances.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll expect more from yourself and others.
Check out quick opinions from Zer and myself, plus links to all of our movie reviews on our movie page: The Crusade on Cinema
…and don’t worry Planet of the Apes will be here tomorrow…