Friday, December 16, 2011

The Help

The film has been co-produced by Anil Ambani’s Reliance and features a powerhouse performance by Viola Davis and wonderful ones by everyone else in the ensemble cast, including my favourite Emma Stone (she seems to be all over this year; she was so wonderful in ‘Crazy Stupid Love.’ Next year she is new Spiderman’s new girlfriend)... Other than that the film does not amount to much, despite the fact that it would surely garner a number of nominations and awards. The awards come with a territory, and this one is a feel good race drama in the 1950s, before Martin Luthar King and civil rights, where it tries very hard to bring home the point that all white folks ain’t bad.

No, the film is charming. It’s worth your time, especially in the smaller scenes, like the one involving a pie...

A few years ago, there was a similar film, ‘The Secret Lives of Bees,’ I loved the novel, and I think I liked the film too, especially because it starred Queen Latifah; she is extraordinary. (The current film is an adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same name.)

The film tells the story of how a young, white girl, Skeeter, an outsider herself in her community in Jackson, Mississippi, because she’s not conventionally beautiful, and because she wants to work, helps a number of black maids find themselves, in the process painting a picture of racial tension in the days prior to civil rights.

And, at the centre of it, is the Viola Davis performance; she deserve not just a nomination, but the Oscar statuette itself.

More on The Help here.

"The Help" is a safe film about a volatile subject. Presenting itself as the story of how African-American maids in the South viewed their employers during Jim Crow days, it is equally the story of how they empowered a young white woman to write a best-seller about them, and how that book transformed the author's mother. We are happy for the two white women, and a third, but as the film ends it is still Jackson, Mississippi and Ross Barnett is still governor." The complete Roger Ebert review here.

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