Many weeks have passed, and The Help (2011) has been sitting on our TV stand, waiting for someone to watch it. We, we finally watched it. What it’s about? Oh, you know, racism in Mississippi and the South in the early 1960’s .
From my point of view, the true two stars of this film are Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, who portray two black maids working hard in various homes in Jackson, Miss., in that turbulent period in the South where racism was ingrained into that society. Davis’ Aibileen and Spencer’s Minny work for minor wages, suffer discrimination daily, but both attempt to keep their dignity day after day. Emma Stone plays Eugenia (or “Skeeter”), a young white woman who has recently moved back home to her family’s plantation after graduating from college. Unlike her friends, Skeeter is single, has a degree, and wants to begin a career as a writer. Her first job is as a “homemaker hints” columnist in the local paper. As she doesn’t know much about housekeeper cleaning tips, Skeeter asks Aibileen (the maid to her good friend Elizabeth, for her help in answering domestic questions. Skeeter becomes uncomfortable with the attitude her friends have towards their “help,” especially Hilly Holbrook (played villainously by Bryce Dallas Howard.) Amid the discrimination based on color, Skeeter is one of the enlightened few who believe otherwise, and she decides to write a book based on the lives of the maids.
I thought there were interesting performances from Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. However, I thought the other characters were a little…. hammy? Or maybe caricatured? I can’t particularly put my finger on it, but the way that the other characters were written made them appear a little exaggerated to fulfill a particular role — Bryce Dallas Howard as the villain, Sissy Spacek as the villain’s mother, Emma Stone as the one white woman who wasn’t discriminatory. In case my dear wife reads this, I again state that I didn’t roll eyes during the movie, but I did squint plenty of times, because I didn’t quite find the motivations as realistic at time. Still, it was entertaining to watch, so hey, isn’t that the point?
Otherwise, the film on blu-ray looks great — the transfer from film is very clear, and I thought the colors popped, but never overpowered, and black colors looked very inky. While the disc has DTS-HD MA 5.1, this isn’t an action flick. You’ll mostly notice a clear sound, some atmospherics like birds, but this is a dialogue-heavy film.