Recently, my coworker and family and fitness blogger, Stephanie, and I were slated to go see the movie version of The Help, thanks to the Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts and Letters Live program. Since we went to hear Kathryn Stockett speak at one of their events some time ago, we were invited to a pre-screening of the movie set to be released August 10th. Stephanie’s thoughts on that author event are HERE and my own are HERE. I had also written about the book itself in January of 2010. Unfortunately, Stephanie got sick on the day of the screening so I found another friend to accompany me. My best friend from 5th to 8th grade went with me to the Angelika Dallas.
What did I like the most about the movie?
The casting was definitely the best. I was a little leery of Emma Stone as Skeeter, but this versatile actress was a great choice. Allison Janney as Skeeter’s mom was another great choice, too. However, Bryce Dallas Howard perhaps was one of the better castings in the movie. As Hilly Holbrook, she had that fake nice act down pat. She was just as I pictured Hilly. Octavia Spencer as Minny was also a coup for Tate Taylor (the director). She was perfect in this role and all that role entailed–especially the scene and flashbacks of the “terrible awful.”
Does the movie stay true to the book?
I read the book at the end of 2009, so more than 2 1/2 years later, I didn’t notice anything being different in the story. I might have forgotten some details about Skeeter’s maid Constantine and her story, but I still don’t think anything in the movie was changed very much or if at all.
What is another aspect of the movie that was outstanding?
Just from following some of the style blogs, I enjoyed the decor and styling of the southern houses of the Phelan’s (Skeeter’s parents) and of Celia Foote’s older home and the 60’s look of the house of the character Elizabeth. As a matter of fact, I recently toured the Hemingway-Pfeiffer home in Piggott, Arkansas, and I thought the floor plan of the Phelan’s home closely resembled the Hemingway-Pfeiffer home’s bottom floor front two rooms almost exactly. Just the decoration was different but the layout seemed the same.
The neighborhoods, the drugstore/diner, and the cars all brought me back to the 60’s. The dresses, uniforms of the maids, hairstyles, cars, buses, TVs, and other details also contributed to the authenticity of the time.
–The above pictures are from the Hemingway-Pfeiffer home in Piggott, Arkansas
Did I feel the movie was an accurate portrayal of life in the South in the late 50’s/early 60’s?
Yes. If anything, the movie doesn’t get down and dirty enough about how horrible blacks in general and the help were treated. There are scenes about Medgar Evers’ murder and of the Kennedy assassination, which do remind viewers of the turbulence of the times. Of course, there was a lot of humor in this movie to balance out the disturbing images and issues.
Can I relate personally to the movie in any way?
I never lived in a big house and wasn’t raised by maids. I grew up in a suburb of Dallas in a three-bedroom tract home. But I can relate to the attitude of the some of the characters. I know several people older than me that were basically raised by their parents’ help as well.
Who gave standout performances in the movie?
The four main actresses are on the movie poster for good reason. All four of these women were superb in their roles. Viola Davis is the actress I am most familiar with and I don’t think I have ever seen a subpar performance on her part. She is always outstanding and as Aibileen, I hope she receives many accolades.
Sissy Spacek and Leslie Jordan had some great one liners, especially Mr. Jordan as the The Jackson Journal editor, Mr. Blackly.
What did you not like about the book or the movie?
This book and movie have no strong male characters at all. The movie will be pegged as a chick flick, but I think most men will enjoy it and should not stay away from seeing the wonderful performances.