OK, hands up if you hated The Help? Go on. Did you find it offensive that Hollywood can only present black experience filtered through the prism of a white narrator? Really? You did? Well, you know what? – and I’ll try to say this nicely: you are a moron. You may have a genuine grievance elsewhere in filmed entertainment and media, but in this case you are completely wrong wrong wrong. No, ye Naysayers, The Help is an important film specifically because it is not set up as “An Important Film”; it’s not a black story or a white story, it’s the story of us, of ALL of us, who’ve witnessed or experienced or ignored or abetted the disempowerment of some by others. It’s about the triumph of the human spirit – human spirit, not black spirit or white spirit – in the face of those who would diminish us, and it’s about how we find love and common decency across the divide. I loved it. Completely.
And though it’s actually a complex ensemble piece, no one, and I mean patently absolutely NO ONE on this planet, can fail to have been moved by Viola Davis’ truly exceptional star turn as the maid Aibeleen who’s finally given a voice and some respect. Indeed, for all the hype around Meryl Streep’s Thatcher, it’s Viola Davis in my book – from the trudge to the steely restraint to the towering warmth – who acted her off the damn screen. Davis was robbed, robbed, of the Oscar. Emma Stone’s in the movie too, and you forget that she is, SOOOO good is Viola Davis. Jessica Chastain is great, Olivia Spencer, great, Thingy Howard, great – Tate Taylor: great great (hot) great. But Viola Davis: magnificent.
The Help shot in Mississippi, in the cities of Greenwood – great vid here from the Greenwood CVB – Clarksdale, and Jackson – including, famously, gaining access to the Governor’s Mansion for a handful of the key scenes.