The Help Tate Taylor

The Help Tate Taylor
In the '60s, America was in the throes of the civil rights movement. It was most certainly not a good time for a black maid to sit down with a white woman and recount what working for white people was really like. Regardless, this is what Aibileen (Viola Davis) does when Eugenia (Emma Stone) asks her to in The Help, not because she's always done what white women have asked, but because it was time. The stories she tells are both heartbreaking and heart-warming, revealing just how complex these relationships are. The Help is based on the wildly popular novel of the same name, written by Kathryn Stockett. Thanks to a superb cast, the novel's spirit thrives on screen. Davis anchors the picture with great weight and stoicism, but it is Bryce Dallas Howard, as queen of the white ladies, Hilly Holbrook, and the lesser known Octavia Spencer, as the feistiest of maids, Minny, who give The Help the punch it requires to become as memorable and enjoyable as it is. Novice filmmaker Tate Taylor's lack of experience behind the camera shows when certain delicate moments feel a tad rushed, but that hardly matters when the experience itself is so delightful and endearing. Still, much of the book's more difficult elements, like the real danger these women were facing in telling their stories, is somewhat glossed over. A different director might have taken a much darker approach, but Taylor captures the fundamental essence of the book, how these two races needed to work together to make change they both needed. Some of the harder deleted scenes make it on to the DVD extras, along with the obligatory making-of featurette and a music video. Given the film's wild success, a little more effort would have been nice (like a commentary or recipes for all that fried food they eat), but I doubt fans will even notice. (Buena Vista)