THE HELP--Directed by Tate Taylor/With Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard/ screenplay by Tate Taylor from the novel by Kathryn Stockett/Jessica Chastain/PG-13/2hr17min
A Bifocal Review by Barbara and Gordon Rich
(B) Finally, a film I can give credit to a well performed story, without benefit of special sound effects or visual effects, (not that there is no merit in that). Sometimes I am forced to give reviews on films I’m just not that passionate about. Maybe I’m just nostalgic, but this movie reached me on every level, historically, emotionally and tickled my sense of humor. Octavia Spencer stood out for me in this film. I thought she stole every scene she was in. Believe me, that is some task when you are up against such remarkable performances by Viola Davis and Emma Stone. Two other performances deserve a nod. Those of Bryce Dallas Howard, whose role calls for “beyond bitch,” and Jessica Chastain, who plays the part of a white outcast. It’s hard to give credit to a performance by someone who makes you hate them, but Bryce Dallas Howard delivers just that and Jessica Chastain, is just another worthy performance. I fill remiss in not mentioning more popular actresses in this movie, such as Cycly Tyson, Sissy Spacek and Allison Janney. They lived up to their standard, but I picked out what I thought were standouts. Don’t miss this film. I give it four binoculars!
(G) I know I may be bucking the system, but I am going to start off my review of this star-studded film by tipping my hat to Jessica Chastain for playing Celia Foote (a character of mid-importance in the film). Although her character is not integral to the plot of the film her character is artfully played and is an example of how well every part was cast and portrayed by Chastain’s fellow cast members. To say that I saw real acting talent in one of the minor characters only shows, by comparison that the talent of the major players—also the writing, the directing and the editing—were all top notch. As Barbara points out above, there was a certain amount of nostalgia attached to this film that Baby-Boomers (especially) will find encouraging. After all, the underlying theme that is being laid bare here is how racial prejudice (this ignorance was actually written into the State of Mississippi’s Constitution in the period where this film is supposed to be taking place) was no longer tolerated in our country. The setting of the film is Mississippi only 50 years in our nation’s ago. The audience was filled (in the early afternoon on a weekday) by members of “the older generation” with only a sprinkling of younger folk. Most of those who were in attendance remember standing around a television when President Kennedy was shot or even what they were doing with Martin Luther King Jr. marched on Washington. However, it’s important to note that the theater was full and the pain of racism was put into a perspective of importance that does not always get noticed. That is the importance of having white supporters in the struggle for African American equality. I liked the movie for all that it accomplished (even for the memories that it stirred in me) whether those accomplishments were intended or not. I too give this one four binoculars and am gearing up for an Oscar Battle Royal in a number of categories.