Whenever I see a movie that is based on a book I've read I go into it reminding myself, "It will never be as good as the book, treat it as a separate entity."
In the case of "The Help", the film version of the book by the same title, there is no need for excuses. This film is perfectly cast and captures the exact tone and sentiment of the novel. Sure, they had to cut some things out (they only have two hours), but despite those few plot lines that got trimmed down or skipped over, the film was practically a replica of the book.
Emma Stone stars as Skeeter Phelan, a young woman itching to make a change. Though in the book Skeeter is more driven, more argumentative with her mother, more inept at talking to suitors and has bigger, frizzier hair, Stone played the part convincingly. Her best moments in the film were the scenes where she recalled memories of her childhood maid, Constantine.
Skeeter's childhood best friend Hilly Holbrook is played by Bryce Dallas Howard. Hilly comes in a beautiful, prim and proper package, but is vile to the core. Howard's performance is one of my favorites in the movie.
Aibileen, the maid who the story centers around, is played by Viola Davis. I am telling you right now, this woman is an Oscar contender. Aibileen was my favorite character in the book and Davis brought her to life on the big screen in the most sincere, endearing performance.
Aibileen's best friend, Minny Jackson, is played by Octavia Spencer. Spencer's Minny has enough sass in her pinky toe to run circles around any diva. Minny certainly has the best lines of the film and Spencer deserves credit for her comedic timing and commitment to the role.
For me, the best and most authentic relationship is the movie was the one between Aibileen and Minny. No matter the circumstances, they stood by each other.
My only disappointment in the film was that they cut out the scene where Stuart proposes to Skeeter. I thought that was one of the most important scenes in the book because it really demonstrated Skeeter's character. In fact, I couldn't wait to see how they created it on screen.
You might be wondering, how did they manage to make the movie so much like the book? Well, the writer of the screenplay and the director, Tate Taylor, is a childhood friend of the author, Kathryn Stockett. I'd say that's a sure fire way to make sure your book survives the transition to film.
I was so incredibly impressed by this film adaptation. I can't think of another book that's movie version came this close to the original story.
Did you read "The Help"? How did you feel the film measured up?
*Images courtesy of CoolSpotters.com, Hollywood.com, HollywoodReporter.com, BET.com, USAToday.com, Acriticalreviewofthehelp.wordpress.com and Bandittalks.blogspot.com.