Thursday, February 9


(2011) Rated PG-13. 146 minutes. Starring: Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, Jessica Chastain, Cicely Tyson. Directed by Tate Taylor.

Academy Award® Nominee
Best Picture, Best Actress (Viola Davis), Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain & Octavia Spencer)

In 1960s Mississippi, a young journalist (Emma Stone) decides to write a book about the black maids who have spent their lives taking care of white children. As the best friend of one of the employers (Bryce Dallas Howard), she faces the risk of being shunned by her society friends--all of whom have servants—when she gathers the courage to participate in a secret literary project. (Adapted from the Kathryn Stockett novel.) 

elizabeth: As a child of the ‘60s, I remember watching on a grainy B&W TV men and women being refused service at a diner, men marching and carrying signs that said: “I am a Man.” I learned that all of these hard working men and women were forced to use separate bathrooms from the white people who made up the laws to suit their bigoted brains. Up north I don’t remember seeing this first hand, but it made such an impression on me and shamed me as a white child living in this country.

I read Kathryn Sockett’s THE HELP a few weeks before the movie came out. I am always curious to see if a film can live up to the book or surpass it. Ms. Stockett’s novel is such a compelling read about America’s unjust and immoral treatment toward a lot of its citizens. We need to revisit it and feel our shame boil up again. THE HELP needed to be written and needed to be made into a movie. 

Nicole: I agree wholeheartedly that this is a movie that needed to be made – a story that needed to be told. It’s pretty certain that many people, especially younger ones, were not even aware that things like this happened. But the harsh reality is – relatively not long ago – America was a very different place.

In school, I learned about segregation and the civil rights movement, but that education only covered so much. What THE HELP does is provide a very telling inside look at a shameful period in our history – unveiling the bitter truths of our culture and politics. Books and movies like this needs to be produced to ensure that we remember and not doom ourselves to repeat history.  

elizabeth: The women in THE HELP are part of one of the finest ensemble of actresses I have ever seen in film. So much of the emotional pull in this movie comes from Minny (Octavia Spencer), who I would never, ever cross, to Aibileen (Viola Davis), whose quiet wisdom  and courage started to change things in that small town in Mississippi. And then there is Skeeter (Emma Stone), a 22-year-old woman who decided that the stories of the maids must be told even if it meant that she would be ostracized by her family and friends. (There are a lot of heroines in this movie. And there are some recipes I would advise against trying.)

I wish I didn’t feel this way, but I don’t think the movie is as strong as the book. Overall, I felt that there were parts that were slow and I know I read the book as if my pants were on fire.

I applaud director Taylor for putting a brilliant cast together and I know this is a very important movie. But I don’t think it is going to go win the Best Movie Oscar. But that is okay. The story stays with you and makes you think and rethink your feelings on a number of topics. So it does win my respect.

I do think Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer could take the gilded guy home. Their performances are unforgettable. 

Nicole: I so need Minny’s recipe for Chocolate Cream Pie – there’s quite a few people I’d love to serve a slice or two to. 

For me, Octavia Spencer steals the whole movie. As great as Emma, Viola, Jessica and Bryce (the woman you love to hate and hate some more) were – no one can match Octavia’s charisma. From the second she appears on screen, you know you’re going to witness a very special performance. And that’s why she’s been winning every award and will take home the Oscar.

You’re not alone, Cassidy. I’ve heard from many other people who read the book and they too were disappointed in this adaptation. I haven’t read the book, so I don’t have that frame of reference. I do remember thinking it had its slow moments, but the resolution was extremely satisfying and the roles so well acted that it made up for any lags in time.

As for Best Picture – it’s a strong contender simply because of the ensemble work – and that’s likely why it took home the SAG award, edging THE DESCENDANTS out of the competition. But come Oscar night, it’s going to be a tough standoff between THE HELP, THE ARTIST and THE DESCENDANTS. Just maybe, these ladies will be going home with their golden guy. 



  1. Loved the book and was pleasantly surprised by the movie. I also flew through the book, not able to put it down. But thought the movie did a good job of capturing the feel of the book. For me, Meryl should win best actress. Best movie should be Hugo.

  2. Great review girls! If I had not read the book and seen the movie, your review would encourage me to do both. Rarely does a film meet up to the expectations one has after reading the book. That being said, The Help as a film was excellent but did pale somewhat in comparison to the book. Read the book Nicole and tell us what you think. I rarely read a book after it has been made into a movie but I do recommend taking the literary journey Nicole! I look forward to your next review and hope it will be a film that has opposing viewpoints from the "Film Fatales" Carry On!
    Dorf Linehan Kaffl

  3. Dorothy amd David - thanks for your comments.
    David- want to see The Iron lady and Hugo. Can't wait to review them.
    Dorothy - don't worry, the gloves will be coming off soon. :-)

  4. This is such an entertaining way to find out about movies!! Thanks Elizabeth and Nicole. I always shy away from serious books, but so many people around me insisted I read The Help and I'm so glad I did. I was really blown away; it was the best book I've read in years. I, too, was happily surprised at how good the movie was. There are always book elements that can't translate onto the screen, but I think they did an awesome job with the film. Usually I'm quite unimpressed with movie versions of books. I cried and cried after both the book and the movie. So poignant, heartbreaking, and yet triumphant with amazing performances on film. Thanks for this great blog guys, so glad you two got together in such a perfect forum. I'm going to start going to the movies more often now!

  5. Do I dare confess I haven't read the book? As compelling a story as I know it is, everything I read 'about' it suggested to me it was meant to be a movie. And a wonderful movie it is! I'm always curious about how a book holds up to a movie, and I almost always want to read the book first, so I can form my own opinion about the book vs. the movie. But this time I didn't. So be it. Perhaps I'll get around to reading it. Or I'll just content myself with the power of the cinema to do this story the justice it demands.

  6. ---Love the book. I was quite upset to turn the last page. I didn't want it to end.

    And I thought the movie was superb. Yes. Great cast. Every. Single. Character.

    xx Thanks for a great review, girls. XX

  7. I read and loved the book--and have had the DVD sitting here for a while now. I guess I've been afraid to be disappointed. Silly, huh? But now that I've read your review, I'll certainly watch it soon. Thank girls!