I’m a lucky man. That much is true in my life. Sure, I have had plenty of bad things happen but I always look to the truly wonderful things that I have accomplished. One thing that I was very proud of was that I had the chance to be an extra in The Help. It was an amazing experience. That being said, I am almost completely out of frame and only my elbow can be seen in the one shot that I was in…but even Pacino had to start somewhere. While I was adding my tiny contribution to this project I didn’t think that this movie would really be that great. I have yet to read the book and didn’t think that I would be too impressed with it once it was released (just from my limited access to the production side). How very wrong I was.
The Help is a film about a young lady, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Stone), and her pursuit of a writing career. She is a recent college graduate and is looking to take on the world as a writer in New York…unfortunately she is rejected and is reduced to ghost writing the cleaning column for a Jackson newspaper. When she asks a friend if she can speak with her maid about some cleaning questions, she stumbles on to an idea. What if she could write a book from the perspective of “the help”? When Skeeter begins to pursue this idea she is at first met with resistance but soon enlists Aibileen (Davis) and Minny (Spencer) to share their stories. As major events in the Civil Rights Movement begin to cause unrest in the already tense race relations, the weight of what they are attempting to do starts to press down on those involved. Under strenuous times and during difficult situations the character of a person is tested…this film explores what happens when people pass and fail that test of character.
This movie was great. To someone like me, who can often see things for what they are now but not what they were during that time, this movie is very stirring. It shows you examples (granted this is a fictional story and some things are exaggerated for effect) of the way things were during that time in American History without condemning any particular group. I, as a white male, didn’t feel like I was being talked down to in this movie. I only felt that I was given access to a part of history (again, I know this is not a documentary) that I normally would not see being presented in such an open dialog.
Worth the admission? Very much so. I may even go back and see it again. Every actor involved gave fantastic performances. Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas Howard (Aibileen Clark and Hilly Holbrook) turn in my favorite performances of the movie.
Note: It was nice to see friends and co-workers that were part of this film. Marley Sullivan, Emelia Joseph and Bill Crump (co-workers/friends) all had some great screen time. If you or someone you know was in the movie, let me know