Under the theory of sharing the things I see, I wanted to try and do a more formal review of the movie The Help. I have read the book and seen the movie twice now. I tried to think and be objective the second time around instead of just basking in the beauty of the story. (there is a hint about how I feel about the movie.)
The Help is the story of an independent young white woman, fresh from college and itching to write the story of her career, and the supposedly "free" colored women who are paid below minimum wage, treated like slaves, and considered disposable as they run households, raise white children, and put up with the indignities of living in the South in the 1960s. (wow that was a mouthful!) The story Skeeter decides on is how these maids/housekeepers feel and their relationships with the ladies they work for. This isn't easy for her to accomplish and that underscores the worries of the time. Two very strong willed maids, Abileen and Minny, help her. These three women are the focus of the book and film.
For me, the most important part of any movie adaptation of a book is that the movie retains the spirit of the story. I realize that characters need to be combined sometimes and parts left out. but the resulting movie still needs to make me feel the way the book did. (think about the avid fans raging against Harry Potter for the parts of the movie that don't live up to the books.)
The Help did an excellent job of keeping the overall feel of the story. Yes, parts were left out and events skimmed in some cases, but the viewer still left the movie feeling the same way a reader feels when done reading the book: totally peeved about how maids/housekeepers were treated by the white women they worked for and vindicated by their victories, small and large. I loved that at certain parts of the movie (which I shall not spoil for those who have not read the book) you could tell who in the audience had read the book. But knowing what twists and turns were coming didn't take away from the joy of watching the film. In fact, I think it made it just that much better. And while many movies might fade after the second watching, I was only more captivated the second time.
The actresses picked to play each of the main roles, Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer shine! in this role, Emma Stone has proven herself an actress to be reckoned. Equally impressive are newcomers (to me) Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron Howard's daughter), and Jessica Chastain. I know it is cliche, but these women truly brought their characters to life.
Is it a good indication of an excellent adaptation when you leave the movie wanting to read the book again? if that is the case, then The Help is truly an excellent movie. even if you have not read the book, you will enjoy this story of friendship and courage.