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THE HELP
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Amanda Jacobson

Stars:  Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janey, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone
Director:  Tate Taylor
Audio:  DTS HD 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Dreamworks
Features:  See Review
Length:  146 Minutes
Release Date:  December 6, 2011

"If you can love your enemy, you already have victory."

Film ***1/2

The Help was an amazing reminder to me that there is always another side to any story, it just depends on who you ask. I found it definitely worth viewing. The movie is set in a place very near and dear to my heart, since my Grandparents live in Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter (Stone) has returned home since graduating from Ole Miss, and is determined to make writing her career, much the opposite of her childhood friends. She's given a domestic help column as her first assignment.

Over a bridge game at a friend's home, the subject of her unmarried lifestyle comes up. She decides that Elizabeth's (O'Reilly) maid, Aibileen (Davis) would be able to give her a bit of insight into cleaning questions for her column at the paper. In learning about how to best utilize Crisco or how to keep onions from making you cry, Skeeter learns a few things about life.

After learning the truth about how her own maid was insensitively dismissed by her own mother, who is suffering from a cancerous ulcer, Skeeter decides to compile a multitude of other experiences from other maids, thereby giving them their own voice. Though this is against the law according to Mississippi legislation, Skeeter and Aibileen along with Minny (Spencer) agree to clandestine meetings and to divulge the other side of the story from a maid for well to do Ms families.

I think the funniest thing is how true it is that we so judge others, even today, the way Celia Foote (Chastain) is judged for not living half an hour outside of town and for dating Hilly's( Howard) ex boyfriend directly after they split up, as white trash. After Hilly terminates Minny's employment, she takes employment with Celia. They forge a friendship and she saves her life after the third miscarriage in a year or two.

I can't really say too much about “The Terrible Awful” without ruining a good chapter in the book Skeeter finishes, after a dozen or more other maids come forth to contribute and have their voices heard. I'll leave that for you to see. The book is published and causes much ruckus in the town amongst the anonymous maid contributors and their well to do employers. The book is successful enough that Skeeter is offered a position as a writer for a publishing company.

As a recap, we've seen the murder of Medgar Evers (civil rights activist) , personal struggle to free the voices and experiences from women who are separate but equal in an unequal 1960s world, and personal internal conflict in providing a platform for those women. All in all, I appreciated the movie's honesty, and how through any kind of problem you're having be it minor or major all it takes is one person to show they are there for you. Besides, fried chicken just tends to make you feel better about life.

Video ****

The period colors come through cleanly and brightly on this Blu-ray.  Images are clean and well-rendered throughout, and detail level is sharp all the way.

Audio ***

This is a dialogue-oriented film, and doesn't lend to much dynamic range.  However, the spoken words are clear, and though the rear stage use is minimal, they occasionally open up a little to give the audio a more ambient feel.

Features ***

This two disc combo starts with deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and a tribute to the maids of Mississippi in their own words.  The second disc, a DVD of the movie, also includes a music video from Mary J. Blige.

Summary:

There are two sides to every story, and The Help takes an honest, fresh look at a piece of cultural history through the eyes of the people who lived it.  Recommended.

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