The Help is an incredibly important and impactful film that should be a required viewing for everyone in America. It can be easy to ignore real problems until a movie like this comes along and forces us to consider another group of peoples’ perspective. This country has a troubling past and the Help is not afraid to tackle these pressing issues. Let’s consider the pros and cons…
Pros: The Help has an incredibly compelling plot with phenomenal acting and direction. Not only does the movie place us at a desperate time in our country’s past, but we see the extent of racism and how it affects every aspect of their lives. Viola Davis gives a palpable performance with no shortage of passion and is supported by Oscar winner Octavia Spencer. There are a lot of positive things I can say about this movie, but my main takeaway are the themes of doing the right thing and not only being kind, but respectful to your fellow humans. These themes will always be relevant and are perhaps more pertinent today than when this movie released 9 years ago.
Cons: As with many movies dealing with racial injustice, The Help suffers from the cliché white savior. Don’t get me wrong, Emma Stone goes toe to toe with some truly talented actresses, but through no fault of her own, her character is written to be too perfect. “Too perfect” might seem like a silly thing to fault a character for, but it doesn’t allow her to grow in any meaningful way. You could argue she grows by seeing the effects of racism on the Help, but even then, she doesn’t have any reservations about diving in head first and being the ally they need. On the opposite end of this argument, Bryce Dallas Howard plays a irredeemably racist character without any nuance at all. It’s probably an accurate depiction of how some people were in the 60’s, but it’s not fun to watch. The movie is showing us both extremes on the racism spectrum, which is necessary for the story, but also heavy handed.
I give The Help an A-. As mentioned in my opening, this movie should be a required viewing for everyone in America. The value of another group of peoples’ perspective is priceless and we could all stand to benefit by being more understanding. Happy Watching!
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”