Movie Reviews The Help

For a film with such a charged subject matter -- how African-American maids living in Mississippi during the 1960s viewed their employers -- it seems odd that many critics focus their attention not on the plot of The Help but on the performances of the lead actors, in particular Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, who play "the help." The reason, Carrie Rickey suggests in the Philadelphia Inquirer, may have to do with the fact that Tate Taylor, who adapted the book and directed the movie, is "himself an actor" and is therefore "focused more on the performances than on cinematic storytelling." Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times remarks that Taylor's strength "is in fully mining the comic talents of his actors to help the drama go down." And with some performances that he evokes, the critics agree. Davis and Spencer "unfurl their characters with elegance, heart and -- in Spencer's case -- delightful snap and acerbic sass. Expect to hear their names mentioned as awards season approaches," writes Linda Barnard in the Toronto Star . Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune predicts that an Oscar nomination for Davis seems certain. "I'm not working for her," he explains, "I'm just passing along news of the nearly inevitable." Manohla Dargis in the New York Times also singles out Davis for praise, writing, "She doesn't just turn Aibileen, something of a blur in the novel, into a fully dimensional character, she also helps lift up several weaker performances and invests this cautious, at times bizarrely buoyant, movie with the gravity it frequently seems to want to shrug off." Says Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times "Viola Davis is a force of nature and Octavia Spencer has a wonderfully expressive face and flawless comic timing." And Claudia Puig in USA Today agrees "Davis and Spencer give pitch-perfect performances." Not all of the reviews are raves, however. Sara Stewart concludes her review in the New York Post by remarking that the movie "is like a lot of Southern fare made with Crisco you'll want to gobble it up, but it's not particularly nourishing." And Wesley Morris, one of the few African-American film critics reaches a similar conclusion. "The movie is too pious for farce," he writes, "and too eager to please to comment persuasively on the racial horrors of the Deep South at that time."

10/08/2011


Contactmusic

Tags: Viola Davis - Blur - Drama - Michael Phillips - Octavia Spencer - Roger Ebert - Sara Stewart - The Horrors - The New York Times

Advertisement

More Viola Davis

The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby Trailer

Conor (James McAvoy) and Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) play a couple who fall in love and get married, before hitting various hiccups in their relationship. However,...

Get On Up Trailer

Since he was a child, he knew he'd become a star. He may not have had the easiest life growing up in a poor family...

Get On Up Trailer

The stars of the upcoming James Brown biopic 'Get On Up', Viola Davis, Nelsan Ellis and Octavia Spencer, talk about the legendary musician alongside artists...

James Brown Biopic 'Get On Up' Will Make Chadwick Boseman A Star And Have You Dancing For Days [Trailer + Pictures]

The trailer has been released for the upcoming James Brown biopic, Get On Up, which promises to bring the greatly adored "Godfather of Soul" back...

Advertisement

Get On Up Trailer

James Brown didn't have the easiest childhood being born to two young parents who were so poor they could barely afford to live. After just...

'Ender's Game', Released In US Today, Receives Mixed Reviews

Ender's Game, due to be released in the US today (1st November), has received a series of mediocre reviews from critics.Ender's Game is released in...

Ender's Game Movie Review

Since this entire story centres on virtual-reality gaming, it's tricky to feel any sense of what's at stake here. But a strong cast and above-average...

Prisoners Movie Review

What makes this thriller extraordinary is its willingness to make us scratch our heads and ask questions as the tense, fable-like story patiently unfolds. This...

Advertisement

Comments

Viola Davis Newsletter

Subscribe to this news alert service to receive news and reviews on Viola Davis

Unsubscribe | Unsubscribe All