Topic 278: Write a review of the last movie you saw.

HERE’S MY REVIEW:   The Help, one of the current features in most local cinemas,  is  touted by many as a must see.  It is the story of  a southern girl, returning home to Mississippi from a Northern College.  She aims to be a writer. Somewhat affected by the 1960’s Civil Rights movement, she happens on the idea of collecting the memoirs of the black women who make the gentile life possible for the middle and upper class Southern Ladies.  The movie portrays her awakening to the canyon that separates not just the two races, but in a side story, those that fail to meet the acceptablity criteria of the ladies, no matter what their race.

The movie has a strong sentimental appeal.  I shed the tears I expected to shed and was happy when the good  folks among the bigots  found a bit of  justice and triumphed in the end.

Part of the appeal is that  one way or another most of us are The Help–the ones that do the work those above us in rank and money don’t want to do.   The acting was good, given the script all were working from.  Particularly good were the performances of the Help and the oppressing white women.  Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, the lead black women, will likely compete against each other for an academy award.   The plot if a bit simplistic and scattered at time, was reasonably engaging but  shallow.

If you think a bit, however, the reporter was using the help in much the way those displayed as bigoted and demeaning used their help.  Thinking also underscores the stereotyping starting with the hair dressing and fashions of the prejudiced white Southern Ladies  as opposed to the other characters.  Emma Stone  who played the heroine was given a modern hair style and dress while her snobby sisters all sported the worse side of the fashions of the sixties.  The three other “good” white women also wore clothes and had hair styles updated to make them more appealing.

Then there was the one sided depiction of the help; all possessing hearts of gold despite heinous treatment.  As  a Yankee who graduated from a semi-southern college, and then worked as  a social worker in the more poverty riddled areas of the North East,  I did not think the heinous treatment sterotypical.  From the same experience I also know hearts of gold are more easily found among the poor and oppressed. That said, criminals and those who treat others heinously are also found among all oppressed people.  Oppression does not automatically create hearts of gold.

Putting aside these complaints, I would agree The Help is a most see but mainly  for its consciousness raising merits.  Even then it was more corn meal mush than  meat and potatoes.

I don’t often go to the movies anymore.  Don’t like much of the violence or what passes for comedy.  However, both my husband and I left the theater not regretting having spent $14.00.  To me that makes this a three star movie meaning satisfying, not great, but satisfiying.

So that’s my review.  The film created a stir and a great deal of justified anger in the black community.  I thought to balance my review, I would offer a link to a reviw  by Tambay A, Obenson  who is the founding creator of  Shadow and Act on the Cinema of the Black Diaspora.  Shadow and Act represents a collective of writers, filmmakers, film critics and film enthusiasts,  interested in discussing primarily film and filmmakers of the African Diaspora.

Enjoy.  Share, care, and stay strong.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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