The Help opened in Australia in early September. And just like in the U.S. the reviews were mixed:
By Liz Jones for the Sunday Times
WOMEN can certainly be bullies – even if their floors are spotless – writes columnist Liz Jones.
“I went to an advance screening last week of The Help, the Oscar-tipped Hollywood film that has already taken $62 million at the American box office and which opens here next month.
It amused me no end that it was a “fashion press” screening, which has been followed up with “get the look” emails from various High Street firms, due to its setting in the Deep South of Mississippi in the early ’60s. Never mind that the film is about segregation and lynchings.
It’s like being asked to a screening of Schindler’s List, and then “getting the look” of all the lovely uniforms. Such is modern-day marketing.
The film has caused controversy in America, particularly because the story concerns a young, white, privileged journalist who tells the story of the lives led by black maids, the “help” in the title.
I disliked the fact that the black actresses, particularly Octavia Spencer, are so “eye rolling”, but I suppose I’d still be complaining if Halle Berry had been cast instead (too white, too beautiful). But what I found most interesting was its premise that it was women who oppressed black people.
The problem with history is that women are portrayed as powerless bystanders who are, at worst, benign. But women in the South, concerned as they were with running a perfect home, had no problem oppressing other women to make sure their front gardens won “yard of the month”, or that all the food was home-baked.
This myth that it is women, all women, even white homemakers in Sixties America, who are the victims is perpetuated every weekday morning by Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour. . . “
Link to the full article:
Film Review: The Help
by Leigh Paatsch of The Herald Sun, Australia
“ . . . Though The Help sometimes gets close to becoming an uppity pantomime, the film always corrects itself , thanks to an unfailing moral compass. And also (rather surprisingly, given the circumstances) some sharply administered jolts of comic relief.
Superbly cast and effectively scripted, The Help has been designed to forge a direct connection with the viewer on an emotional level.
This it does with a sensitivity and sureness of intent that guarantees its heart and head remain in the right place at all times.”
Link to the full article:
Warm and witty, The Help tackles 60s racism in the South head-on
by Nick Dent of The Sunday Telegraph
“At a time when most Hollywood blockbusters have a 95 per cent male cast plus a token 19-year-old model thrown in for eye candy, I took to The Help like a starving man takes to a plate of fried chicken.
This greatly entertaining and moving story leaves the men mostly offstage and tackles the civil rights struggle from the point of view of the women characters, and there’s no shortage of great actresses to play them. . .”
“Sure, Emma Stone plays the main protagonist, but the film doesn’t let her overshadow the two black leads. Viola Davis is warm, wise and dignified, while scene-stealing Octavia Spencer is impulsive, hilarious and indomitable. I don’t see the point in hand-wringing about the white characters in The Help when a gifted black comedienne like Spencer practically owns the movie.”
Read the full review here:
“The Help could have done so much more but is too smug and complacent.”
By Evan Williams of The Australian
“If only it were harsher, gutsier, more confronting. Audiences are let down lightly and the outcomes are predictably reassuring. Taylor has shot everything in the day-glo colours of 60s affluence, relishing those manicured lawns and gleaming household appliances, all of which gives The Help its charm and visual fascination. It’s not so much the bigotry and cruelty of the whites that repels us; it’s their smugness and complacency. But not once did I feel that Taylor was really angry. Minny’s great gesture of symbolic retribution (it has something do with a chocolate cake) is no more than that, a gesture. Yes, we can laugh at the joke. But we still need to be told that racial hatred was more than a matter of bad manners and appropriate sanitation. For that we need films such as Mississippi Burning.”
See the full review here:
New Zealand Reviews for the movie:
The Help Review
By Helene Wong for New Zealand Listerner
“There’s sentiment, with tears jerked and comeuppances got, and sisterhood sometimes transcending barriers of race and class. A stellar cast of black and white actresses don’t always succeed – Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain excepted – in keeping it real. Mainly, though, it’s a triumph of art direction. Good Housekeeping rules in pretty cupcake colours, hair is waved and pouffed to within an inch of its roots, and skirts are flared. It’s bright and shiny, which is another way of saying sanitised.”
Read the full review here: http://www.listener.co.nz/culture/film/win-win-and-the-help-review/
The Help: Movie Review
By tvnz.co.nz’s Darren Bevan
“That’s the thing with The Help; it does exactly what it says on the tin. While it’s a little overlong and could have done with a hint of editing, this tale of empowerment and standing up, mixed with a dash of social commentary, is what you’d expect and is the perfect mother and daughter kind of outing – or a good night out for the girls.
Emotional and moving, The Help is a sturdy showcase of talent with some great performances- however, with a slightly more experienced eye behind the camera, it could have transcended from something a little middle of the road to something a little more sensational.”
Read the full review here: http://nz.movies.yahoo.com/reviews/article/-/10257021/the-help-movie-review/
Foreign Gross for The Help, as of Sept. 19th
Click image for larger view:
Chart and additional figures can be found at Box Office Mojo
The movie opens in the UK in early October, check back here for the reviews and opening figures.
To be continued . . .