Saturday, August 20, 2011
Every once in a while a movie comes along that completely transcends entertainment. Based on a novel I've not read, The Help adds one more layer to the Civil Rights movement. The hardworking layer of the African American maids who lovingly raised the children of their employers and then suffered many of those same children growing into bigoted adults. Stories are shared, lives explored, attitudes revealed and the fictional account is likely just a tiny shadow of reality.
A white young writer (Emma Stone) who is part of the upper social class struggles with her "friends's" treatment of their maids. And she feels deceived over the disappearance of her own family maid/nanny, a woman she loves maybe even more than her own mother. She approaches one maid about telling her story so she can write a book. For the maid to reveal what goes on behind closed doors could cost her what little she has.
This film is so well written, filmed and acted that it needs multiple award nominations. Powerful, inspirational, sad and important. I highly recommend it, even for children. Language, some mild violence and the themes might be issues for younger children, though.
I love Colin Firth and had this film on my radar. The royal life is always fascinating and of course the time frame, pre-WWII was of interest, so I finally took the plunge and rented a copy. I knew it was about a stuttering monarch and had read just enough to know that he used some inventive tools to overcome his situation when required to speak publicly.
I didn't expect the movie to be so charmingly quirky though. And quirk is a hot button for me so I ended up loving this flick. Firth as Bertie is spot on. His frustrations, his heart, his sensitivity show throughout the span of the movie. The film begins with Firth's Prince Albert Bertie filling in for his father, the king. And the distress at stuttering his way through the simple announcement is all over his face, and throughout the listening audience as the camera pans over them. Humiliated and frustrated he seeks help and finds more frustration and humiliation. Until his wife finds Logue, Geoffrey Rush, a "doctor" with a flair for the dramatic. The two men begin to form a friendship and it's a beautiful thing to behold. Bertie's story was heart-breaking but his heart for the people and his family and his drive to overcome this challenge were inspiring.
Geoffrey Rush is a delight to watch, and is perfectly cast as well. The cinematography and editing are well done. Overall, the only thing that could be offputting for family viewing is two bursts of language. Bertie doesn't stutter when cussing. This becomes an exercise. Preview it if it concerns you, the two (I think) sections could be muted for family viewing.