Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
slavery in the Bible
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
emotional manipulation / intimidation
friendship / sisterhood
|Featuring:||Emma Stone … Eugenia ’Skeeter’ Phelan
Bryce Dallas Howard … Hilly Holbrook
Mary Steenburgen … Elain Stein
Viola Davis … Aibileen Clark
Sissy Spacek … Missus Walters
Cicely Tyson … Constantine Jefferson
Jessica Chastain … Celia Foote
Octavia Spencer … Minny Jackson
Mike Vogel … Johnny Foote
|Producer:||Chris Columbus … producer
Reliance Big Entertainment
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
“Change begins with a whisper.”
Statistics show that up to 90% of working black women during post slavery ended up being the domestic help for upper-class white families. Raising white children and getting meager pay, these women often silently endured racial injustice.
Skeeter (Emma Stone) is a recent Ole Miss graduate. Unlike her childhood friends, she isn’t married and instead wishes to launch a writing career. Her polar opposite and socialite leader is Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard). Though she’s organizing a charity drive for African children, she’s also trying to pass a bill where all white households would be required to have a separate bathroom for their colored help. Not only would this increase the value of the home, she also believes this separation would ensure sanitation. Her current maid is Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer). During a tornado, Hilly catches Minny trying to use the inside bathroom and promptly fires the longtime help.
Minny’s best friend is Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis). A quiet woman, Aibileen is currently raising her seventeenth white child and is aghast at how neglectful her current employer is with her own daughter. She’s also mourning the loss of her son. When Skeeter conjures up the idea of writing an exposé on what it’s like to be the help, Aibileen initially refuses to assist. However, she and Minny soon realize that through this project, they can be heard.
The film has heart to it, and Aibileen and Minny are the most well-rounded characters. Some of the upper female socialites threaten to be racist caricatures, but even they have their moments of doubt. Though Aibileen is noble, I enjoyed Minny’s character much more. Yes, she does have her fierce attitude, but she’s also very loyal and ends up being a mentor to a white social outcast later on in the film, even showing her the magic of Crisco.
Perhaps the film’s biggest drawback is its lacking of gritty realism. The movie has a very feel-good attitude to it. At the dawn of the Civil Rights era, the racial tensions and injustices were way more extreme, especially in the South. Then again, to its defense, “The Help” is a film, not a documentary. So though, it could have shown worse sufferings, it still helps present a personal glimpse on the lives of two women and their stories.
I found the trailer to be somewhat misleading; it presents Skeeter as the heroine of the film. While she is the one who created the idea of writing down the women’s story, her character is less developed and doesn’t come to the rescue of the hired help. Aibileen and Minny are what keep the story going, and Skeeter becomes their written voice. In this alone, the film receives accolades from me, since the black women never pitied themselves, but decided to share their stories because of their own inner strength.
“The Help” does have some areas of concerns in its content. The profanity is around the 24 mark, including 5 GD, 5 sh_t, 7 d_mn, 2 as_, and 4 hell. There are several uses of “Oh, Lord”. However, the maids were church-going, so I’m not sure if all of these are misused. I only heard one use of the word n_gger and a handful of negra.
It’s worth mentioning that the cast is predominately female, and the majority of men take a backseat. Most are either absent or weak minded. In one case, one’s physically abusive to his wife (off screen). The only strong male character I recall is Aibileen’s minister.
Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain) is considered white trash among the socialites of Jackson. Through the film, she wears very tight clothing and low-cut shirts and dresses. In one scene, she drinks too much and vomits. In wanting to be a good housewife, she hires Minny, without her husband’s knowledge, to help her around the house. She later reveals that she got married when she had gotten pregnant.
There’s a karma-like theme interwoven through the film. One of the black maids seeks revenge on her former employer who is a very scornful racist. She bakes her a pie, containing feces. This avengement turns out to be quite an embarrassment to its recipient and to her horror, it’s brought up numerous times throughout the film. Many of these situations are portrayed as deserving, and it is tempting to laugh, though in Proverbs 24:17, it says:
“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.”
Though Aibileen is understandably reluctant to share her story with Skeeter, her minister’s Sunday sermon later changes her mind. It is a very fitting sermon and one of my favorite moments in the Old Testament. It is when the Lord called Moses to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt. Though Moses is famously known for the ten plagues of Egypt and parting the Red Sea, he didn’t immediately jump on board when God called him to serve.
In actuality, he was extremely hesitant and spent the majority of Exodus 3 and 4, questioning God with different what-if scenarios and the validity of his own self-worth. In his glorious awesomeness, God patiently countered Moses’ objections. Like Aibileen, Moses questioned the power of his own words. In Exodus 4:11-12, the Lord said,
“Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
I do recommend “The Help” to those who like heartfelt dramas. I felt the film was very well-acted (one of the best casts in recent memory). Yes, the film does have its flaws, but I felt it was very involving and provided something other than the empty value of entertainment Hollywood has steadily provided, as of late. I do have to say that I’ve never read the book, but friends have told me that they found the film adaptation to be an accomplishment. Perhaps my favorite lesson from the movie was the triumph of truth. Nothing was magically fixed, but voices were heard.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.