Directed by Tate Taylor and adapted from the novel by Kathryn Stockett, this is a story which gives us multiple looks into the lives of the help in the 1960’s and follows the work of an author writing about the help during the civil rights movement.
Firstly it cannot be stated enough how powerful this cast is, not only is there not one weak performance but they are all outstanding in this film. Even those you learn to hate play their roles perfectly.
As it is well known Octavia Spencer won her oscar for her role in this, very much deserved as not only just she enclose the emotions and fear that is often associated with this role, she brings a kind of humor which is just perfectly timed and performed. She along with two other members of the cast struck me as being ever so slightly better than the rest of the group, which is saying a lot when you look at the rest of them.
I wish we could have seen more of Viola Davis, who plays Abileen Clark, and Spencer’s character together as they work well together.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Hilly Holbrook who is the queen bee of her town, she is excellent in this and the whole time watching her you just wish some one would slap her.
Emma Stone plays a woman who does not want to conform to the idea that the woman must marry and have children to be happy, which is refreshing change of pace. In fact I think this is the first non comedy role I have seen her in and it’s easy to say she performs with an excellence known to those who have played this genre many a time.
We are given the view of each help, as we look at the families they work for, which at times feels like it’s getting a bit old and dull. The the majority of them they are horrible women, some worse than others. However once Jessica Chastain walks onto the scene as Celia Foote, comedy and entertainment ensue which makes her one of the best characters for me. What works great is the relationship between Spencer and Chastain in the film, both are outsiders of society and both work incredibly well together. To use the phrase comedy act is wrong but you get the idea from it.
This film is incredibly sweet and charming and emotional,. However it does seem a rather gentle take on how it was in reality. I don’t mean this is in a cynical way as I think this is a great film, however it does rather avoid the death’s and the utter violence known to have happened in this period. We get one really small glimpse into it at one point, however we are quickly moved on and none of it is seen again. This is very different to every other film based in this period. Whether this is done on purpose so that our attention is solely focused on the struggles of these women, or whether its done because the writer just felt it was not right for the book is hard to say. It does give the film a slightly PG feeling to it. this is not a bad thing but makes the film feel softer and more caring and actually nicer then how it really was. It seems an incredibly strange choice to me to remove all the violence that occurred in that period of time.
Of course I have no idea how it’s represented in the book, whether its shown with its true violent nature but it feels like the director or author are playing it safe. One of the few things which annoyed me about this film as that period is such a powerful moment in time. It feels like making a film about the Kennedy’s and not including any of the assassinations or deaths.
Indeed had that all be included it would have been a more realistic film. However The clear key thing about this is the cast.
OVERALL*** The cast are brilliant and powerful. Just the underlining note of playing it safe is one of the films few flaws.