Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cinema Saturday [The Help]

The Help
Walt Disney Studios
December 6
PG-13/146 minutes
info at IMDb/Buy on Amazon

* Post contains some spoilers for The Help novel *

Set in the Jackson, Mississippi of the early 1960s, The Help is adapted from Kathryn Stockett's The Help.

An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960's decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid's point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

The Help is really a fantastic movie. It follows the book pretty closely and tells the same story quite well. A lot of the same events are used, but at times their order is so changed that it seems they were put in a bag and shook up in much the same way that Minnie teaches Celia to shake up the chicken they're planning to fry.

It's actually quite interesting how (almost) the same story can be told with events and dialogue moved around around so much.

It seemed like a decision was made to make Skeeter's - the 'aspiring author' of the synopsis - mother more sympathetic than she was in the novel. Her cancer is known - and present - throughout the movie. She seems much nicer to Skeeter (Emma Stone) than her character was in the book. I'm not sure if it was supposed to explain something about Skeeter's motivations or actions or just to make her a more likable character but it was definitely noticeable. (And took some getting used to.)

One scenario in particular was definitely different. Either the scenario/couple of scenes were different to fit with Mrs Phelan's (Allison Janney) different portrayal or the character was different because of the scenes. Either way, I do think that those particular scenes were better in the book - with the mother coming across as much less sympathetic.

Most of the interactions between Mae Mobley and Aibileen were also missing from the movie - the stories Aibileen tells Mae Mobley, in particular. Those times were a great addition to the novel and showed that Aibileen was really making an effort with Mae Mobley. The maids talked several times about how they raise the children only to have those same children turn around several years later and be their bosses - like Hilly or Elizabeth. The secret stories Aibileen and Mae Mobley shared, was Aibileen's effort to prevent Mae Mobley from being like those women when she grew up. I thought that was a really integral part of the novel and would really have been a fantastic addition to the film. Its absence simplified the story but also left it lacking.

The ending also made a few characters look more sympathetic in a way that I don't think was realistic given the time period and who the characters were. It was great for a movie ending (I don't believe it mirrored the book) and for making people feel better about them having a conscience but I don't think it was that realistic.

The movie will make you want to see Emma Stone in more dramatic roles. She's fantastic in comedy (loved Easy A) but now it's obvious that she can do some dramatic roles, too.

While the film did simplify a few things and made some characters more sympathetic than the novel did, it's definitely worth seeing - whether you've read the book or not.

(I also believe this coupon is still valid- it's this week only so, not sure when exactly it expires)

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