Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reviw: The Help

I saw The Help after listening to the discussion on the Slate Cultural Gabfest. The gabfest discussion included Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe and mostly focused on a discussion of his review of the film. The thrust of Morris's critcism is about more than this one movie
Skeeter’s exposé is meant to empower both the subjects and the author, but “The Help’’ joins everything from “To Kill a Mockingbird’’ to “The Blind Side’’ as another Hollywood movie that sees racial progress as the province of white do-gooderism. Skeeter enjoys all the self-discovery and all the credit. She cracks the mystery of her missing childhood maid (Cicely Tyson). She finds a career at a moment in which women rarely had them. And she changes the lives of a couple of dozen black women whose change is refracted primarily through her. Skeeter’s awakening is a seemingly risk-free reassurance, just as Hilly’s Hanna-Barbera villainy is a kind of delight. The meaner she gets the bigger and higher her hair goes.
This was especially on my mind after watching the preview for the so-much-a-caricature-of-this-point I couldn't believe it film about some criminal who finds religion, builds villages in Africa and takes up arms. The downplaying (ignoring!) of the adjacency of others in favor of the white savior is really striking. When it is first pointed out you can't help but see it everywhere in the movies.

That said, the film is actually rather good. It is entertaining, and one can't help but get emotionally involved in the story. But, it could have been a much better film. Both with some mechanical cleaning up of some of the scenes and story arcs, as well as with a broader-based and reflective placement of the time, place, and continuing struggle.

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