Written by / 8/24/2011 / No comments / , , , , ,

THE HELP

title: THE HELP
year: 2011
cast: Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis
rating: **

A lightweight take on an important subject – African American maids in the South during the turbulent early 1960s, with Emma Stone as Skeeter, a journalist who decides to write a book on the perspective of “the help,” beginning with an interview with central maid Abileen, played by Viola Davis, and the chemistry between these two… the core of the film… is practically non-existent.

A lifeless Stone seems more fitting to a High School dramedy – and in one aspect she is: since Bryce Dallas Howard, as the ostensible Hilly – embodying every ounce of racism into a single character – acts more like a campus bully than a spoiled Belle. By the time Abileen agrees to tell her stories, something practically illegal in the town, there’s little to no drive for the audience to be part of, nor a feeling the controversial project has any sense of urgency or deep ramifications. And Viola Davis, an obviously capable actress, seems alone in a performance meant as a team effort.

It’s the side-story involving the rambunctious overweight Minnie (a role created to steal the film), played by Octavia Spencer, and dimwitted white trash Jessica Chastain that… in a few scenes centering on Minnie’s advice on cooking and life… embodies more scope than the bland mainline. And Bryce Dallas Howard’s eventual “just dessert” is so unrealistic and juvenile, it’s begging for the audience to cheer, “Yeah!” Director Tate Taylor’s agenda centers more on pleasing and/or manipulating the audience than to fulfill a significant story, shedding brighter light on the sway of the leaves than the storm that had caused it.
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