Does the Movie "The Help" Live-Up to the Book?

Racism, Classism, Feminism, and a Great Cast Lead to Applause in the Theater

Strong Women Are the Heroes of This Story

I finally got to see The Help on the big screen last night and can officially recommend the movie to others. The Help by Kathryn Stockett is one of my favorite books ever. Click here for my book review of the novel.

I worried that the movie might not live-up to the book. It did! Although much detail had to be edited out to make the film, I think the director and author of the screenplay, Tate Taylor, did an excellent job of making it a glossy Hollywood movie with just enough humor and tears to move the audience.

I can thank the excellent cast for pulling me into the story and making me cry. I absolutely fell in love with all the main characters. Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, who is played by Emma Stone; Aibileen Clark, who is portrayed by Viola Davis; and the little girl Mae Mobley who is played by twins Emma Henry and Eleanor Henry are likable and believable. I barely recognized Cicely Tyson who played Skeeter’s childhood, elderly maid Constantine.

What finally struck me when watching the movie, that I failed to mention when reviewing the book, is that the book and film aren’t only about race and class, but also about feminism. In fact, we don’t get to know the men in the book or the movie at all. Strong women are the heroes of this story.

One of the important characters in the story is the colored maid Minny. Minny is beaten by her husband, (who we never see), and she finally takes her kids and leaves him. Though poor, beaten, and disrespected by whites and her husband, Minny is a strong, good woman.

Skeeter is the only white woman her age, in her circle of friends that gets a college education and uses it to liberate and empower herself to work, be independent, and not rely on a man. She even changes her mother’s mind about what is most important for her daughter: from dreams of finding Skeeter a husband, to being proud of her for being a successful journalist.

Originally, my one and only complaint about the book was that I didn’t understand why Skeeter had a love interest at all. Her relationship with Stuart never developed deeply in the book. I didn’t get a sense of why she loved Stuart. His family didn’t approve of civil rights which was interesting, but I still felt that relationship was a waste of time when reading the novel.

In the movie Stuart’s family isn’t mentioned. But, when Stuart breaks-up with Skeeter in the film I finally realized the importance of the relationship. She had the chance to fulfill the Southern woman’s destiny — find a husband. But, in true feminist spirit, Skeeter could let him go. She didn’t need a man.

When going to see the film prepare to cry, (three times says my friend and I who viewed the film together), and laugh. As the film ended, the audience applauded! I’ve never seen and have heard an entire theater full of people applaud at the end of a film, like I did last night.
 
If you haven’t read the book, you will cry and laugh when viewing the film. If you loved the book, you will notice the movie lacks some of details of  the civil rights movement in 1963 that were strong in the book. But, the film does not disappoint. Even without every detail from the novel included in the film, I believe you’ll still love the movie The Help.

Comments

  1. I loved both the book and the movie! I read the book first and when I saw the movie it was just as I pictured it would be. The cast was outstanding!The movie has been bashed by a few- but I feel they don't understand the true meaning- which was that Skeeter wanted to expose the lives of these "nannies/housekeepers". And that the "nannies/housekeepers" finally had a safe way to speak up.

  2. I think it's an emotional movie but filled with stereotyping. It is more like a soap opera than an accurate portrayl of civil rights.

  3. I saw this movie and was blown away. It is one of the more poignant movies I have seen! I love it and I think all domestics will love it too.

  4. Octavia Spencer should earn the Academy Award.

  5. Terrific book and movie. I really can't say anything bad about either. Bring tissues you will cry.

  6. I thought the book was better than the movie. But both are great.

  7. I lived in Jackson, MS during my youth and while there are many social issues in the past that I do not condone from classism to racial issues "The Help," shows that great people do come from Mississippi, and the author gives a positive voice to men and women who suffered unnecessarily. The issues presented here are not isolated to the South. We are all connected by our humanity if we choose to do so.

  8. Like many people I loved the book & movie. The importace that comes across in both the movie & the book is that The Help were not just the help or the maids. They were nanny's to those children & more importantly Mother's to the children they raised. Skeeter was way ahead of her time for someone from that era. The Help will be a timeless classic that will stil be talked about in 30+ years time because it has been told from the heart.

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