THE HELP

I need some HELP. After hearing raves and buzz about this movie, I really wanted to love it. Unfortunately I seem to only like it and I'm not sure why I didn't love it. It seems to have all the ingredients of a great movie. The oppressed overcome incredible odds to tell their stories and rise above their station to show heroism and dignity their “superiors” don't possess. The acting is somewhere above first rate. Viola Davis is the early frontrunner for Best Actress. She undergoes a DeNiro-like transformation in her portrayal of Aibileen, the maid whose story gets the ball rolling for Emma Stone's Skeeter. Bryce Dallas Howard should get a supporting actress nod for showing that evil can come wrapped in a pretty ribbons and bows. Kudos also to Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney and Octavia Spencer. The script is first rate and the direction is understated and appropriate in tone. Having heaped on all that praise, it's hard to explain why I though this was good, not great. Maybe it was the unspoken message that these Black maids needed a white woman to throw off their symbolic chains. I'm still not sure, but I didn't leave the theater thinking, “Wow, that was awesome!”. THE HELP is solid and occasionally great, but not the best movie I've seen all year. — Alan Yudman

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