Monday, December 5, 2011

Double Review: The Help, Book and Movie

A Week ago, while working at my job at my university library, I saw someone return Katheryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’. I was intrigued by it since the release of movie earlier this year. But I had no idea that it was available in my library. So, I took this opportunity with both hands. And in last week I read the book and immediately followed it by the movie to pitch them against each other. In general, most of the movies adapted from the books, I usually end up loving the book and hating the movie – Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Godfather(1972) and To Kill a Mockingbird(1962) being the only exceptions so far. So usually I would not have done it. But since movie was praised by many people, I decided to take this chance. Since there have been plethora of reviews out there already and most of them do a wonderful job of it, I will not tell you much about it. I will rather concentrate my energy on comparing the two versions.

I am sure that by now everyone knows that The Help(2011) is about a young, 20 something white woman from Jackson, Mississippi in 1960 who writes a book with help of few black maids about how it is to be working for white woman.  Now, first of all, let me say that this movie adaptation of book stays almost true to the book, which is nice to see. There are parts which have been changed in the movie. However, in most cases, they do not affect the final outcome too much. And film still floats. However, still, book remains the better version of the two. And again the reason behind it is the deviations from the original script. Film is written and co-directed by Tate Taylor, childhood Friend of author Katheryn Stockett. Both of them being the product of the very system, it shows that they know what they are talking about. In the end of the book, author says that 'In The Help(2011) there is one line that I truly prize: Wasn't that the point of the book? For women to realise, We are just two people. Not much that separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought'. And they both emphasize it quite clearly.
Book works much more on personal level. It introduces all those characters to us, takes us into their lives. We live with them through their good days and bad. Making all these characters Gray, rather than plain Black and White, it almost makes us believe that they as human as you and me. In movie, we love and hate them as well. But you do not love AND hate anyone in movie. After book, I did love and Hate Celia Foote and even Hilly. There are few things explained in the book (e,g Hilly - even though she is a devil of a woman, she does stand behind skeeter, fixing her with Stuart and incident with Celia protecting Minny from an attacker) that even though do not affect the overall flow of the story, give the concerned characters much more depth helping humanize them.

One more thing that movie does is it changes the chronology of some of the events. But, to be honest, I did not have a problem with it. I rather liked the idea of starting with Aibileen dictating to Skeeter. It also gets rid of some parts. Skeeter's story with Stuart has lot of twists and turns in book. But again, even though it does give a much more emotional depth to the skeeter's character, I was OK with ditching the whole thing. However, the problem is with the parts which are included in the movie but they are changed e.g Constantine's story or rather Rachel's (Lulabelle in the book) story is much more convincing, dramatic even. Also, Skeeter finds out really late that her mother has Cancer in the book. Part where she figures that out, patches up with Stuart and breaks up again and finds out the truth about Constantine is really heart-breaking. Also, skeeter's mother never figures out that Anonymous is her daughter. Also, all the other maids do not know about Minny's involvement in the project until Yule May episode, which gives her the credit to bring others in.
Now, for the movie. Even though it does change a little here and there, overall it stays true to the emotion till the end. This and plethora of wonderful performances in the movie make it worth watching. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as Aibileen and Minny respectively are wonderful. I surely can understand the Oscar Buzz around Viola Davis and hope she does get it. Emma Stone is also wonderful though I would have loved to see her character develop a little more. However, for me Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard take the cake. Hilly is mean, despicable, controlling and embodied to the perfection by Bryce Dallas Howard. Jessica Chastain, Star of the Year, is revelation as frivolous housewife, excluded by all the 'Society Ladies' because she is White Trash. I wouldn't be surprised if either of them lands with the nomination as well. And the ending is little idealistic where in book, it keeps it much more realistic. My only problem with the book remains to be that it looks like scraps of the top of everything. Like Book does, it does not reach to the heart of the situation, and that is what keeps it from being Great.

Rating(out of 5):

           The Help(Book)                                                                                                   The Help(Movie)


  1. I think I need to read the book now. I loved the film, and the actors were amazing indeed. I'm glad that you speak highly of Jessica Chastain. I loved her in The Tree of Life. And in The Help, she managed to bring so much depth into her shallow character and make her likeable.

  2. I haven't read the book yet but my interest does get sparked after reading this. The cast was amazing, especially Chastain who is so delightful to watch. Good review.

  3. Haven't read the book, but the movie was absolutely fantastic. One of my favorite films of 2011 so far. Wonderful review!

  4. If you like the movie, I am almost sure that you will like the Book. Characters are much likable.

    And I think everyone agrees that Jessica Chastain is Breakthrough Star of the Year along with Michael Fessbender. I want them to be recognized in some way, just because the kind of phenomenal year they had.

    Thanks for Reading !!

  5. After reading his all I can say that This is what I mean by "reviews" as compared to one of yours for "Hunger". This is an excellent review. No Spoiler and encouraging to see movie as well as to read the book. After Watching the movie I was bit confused about Skeeter's character but after reading your review I understood the reason of my confusion. Also, After watching it I am definitely looking forward to read the book as soon as I get the chance. An Excellent review. A movie must watch. A book, must read.

  6. Aside from a few worthy performances, I thought this movie was nothing more than a glorified Hallmark Movie of the Week. People told me I'd like the movie better if I read the book. No thanks!

  7. To Tell you the truth, I am one of those people. I liked the movie because I loved Book. But, I will agree to it being Hallmark Movie with some really good Performances. It does have that feel.


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