The Help Serves a Story of Hope
- Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Based on Kathryn Stockett’s No. 1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon (screenplay by Tate Taylor who also directed), The Help is by turns hilarious and horrifying, sweet and sad, but ultimately it’s a story of hope. When the maids’ stories are published (anonymously, of course) everyone in Jackson reads the book—and it might just plant a seed of change.
Viola Davis shines as Aibileen, the brave, gentle woman who lovingly teaches the neglected little girl in her care, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” Eventually, Aibileen comes to realize all those things are true about herself as well. Octavia Spencer has fabulous comic timing as the outspoken Minny, but also brings quiet depth to her role as a woman whose attitude hides a lot of hidden hurt.
The flagrant, callous racism shown makes The Help sometimes painful to watch, but it's the sort of story that needs to be seen. When Skeeter was a gawky teen, her family’s beloved maid told her, “Ugly is something that grows up inside you.” Maybe if we’re reminded what life was like not so very long ago, not so very far away, it will help keep that particular brand of ugly from growing any more.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking, occasional drunkenness; almost everyone smokes constantly.
- Language/Profanity: He--, dam-, sometimes preceded by “God”; “Lord,” “Jesus,” and “Christ” used as curses; sh-- and sh--house; a-- (sometimes with “hole”); and the n-word.
- Sex/Nudity: Clothing changes, but ‘60s undergarments cover more than modern street attire. Skeeter’s mother delicately asks if her daughter’s lack of gentleman callers is due to unnatural attraction to women. Mild kissing and a playful grab between husband and wife.
- Violence: Woman violently arrested, spousal abuse heard but not witnessed, some shoving. Aftermath of a miscarriage; some blood shown on the floor. Implied violence to live chicken next seen in a frying pan. Most of the violence is emotional rather than physical.
- Spiritual Themes: Racism is a major theme of the story, but so are loving one’s enemies, courage, resisting peer pressure, and the strength that comes when women become sisters, no matter what color their mothers may have been.
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