Ms. Viola Davis already proved her worth to me in 2008 movie Doubt with Meryl Streep, but this time the 46-year old completely holds up this years breakout flick The Help.
Based on a book of the same name by Kathryn Stockett, the film follows the story of two African-American housemaids; Aibileen Clark played by Davis and Minny Jackson boldly executed by Octavia Spencer in a racially segregated America during the early 1960’s in Jackson, Mississippi.
The film is centered around ambitious wannabe journalist Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan’s drive to tell her town’s story through the eyes of these maids working in the houses of the white folk.
It would be nice to see the charming wide-eyed ‘Easy A’ star Emma Stone who plays Skeeter, Spencer and Davis acknowledged at awards season.
Whilst the whole film’s situation looking back on it from 2011 is not the easiest of watches, Davis is heartbreaking in her humble role, careening between real strength/dignity and complete despair at her life. Spencer is incredible in this and the range she displays from fiery hothead to vulnerable victim of domestic violence is seamless.
The film is all very heartfelt, particularly when we find out what really happened with Skeeter, the maid she was brought up by Constantine and how this lady really came to leave Skeeter’s life – Allison Janney acting as Skeeter’s mother and Cicely Tyson played the whole dinner table scene impeccably.
Bryce Dallas Howard’s character was as cute as hell and balanced out the heavy context of the times with some lighter tones.
The film has been controversial with Ida E. Jones, the national director of the Association of Black Women Historians saying in an open letter to fans of the film:
“Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers.”
When you’re talking about race and shit like that, someone is going to get up in arms because people actually lived through those times and there is still a furiously deep emotional/spiritual healing that needs to take place regarding what happened to my race – and I don’t care what they say – the wound is still very much open…and still our individual responsibility to heal. Nevertheless, I don’t agree with the comments above because I understand that The Help isn’t a documentary, and it never pretended to be. It’s Hollywood baby.
Viola Davis pwned AGAIN. I know that. Go see.