I'd read the book. Like most everyone else, I really enjoyed it. When you love the book, you worry what the movie will do to it.
Fear not, book clubs. Hollywood's The Help is very well done.
The movie gave me nearly the same images I'd conjurred in my head as I'd read the book. I can't recall a better book to big-screen transformation. I was mostly impressed with the Southern accents, too. Southern cliches aren't pounded over the viewer's head, either, but there were just enough Southern sayins' to make it authentic. Sissy Spacek, as Hilly's mama, is wonderful, and reminded me of my own Mamaw when she said, I'm watching my story! That translates, for those of you who don't know, to...watching a soap opera.
Though it's been a while since I read the book, there was nothing I can recall of note that wasn't portrayed in the movie; the screenplay stays very true to Kathryn Stockett's pages. Yes, even the pie...
When talk of this film began, critics questioned if the movie would dare go there, and really show the ugliest sides of racism down South. While I didn't live then, in 1960s Mississippi, I can't say for sure, but I can say that this isn't a sneak-your-champers-into-the-theater kind of girl's night movie. I'm an expert, and a fan of those kinds of movies. I mean, it not Roots or anything, but if not for the pretty dresses and pretty ladies and the mass appeal already in place from the book, it'd maybe even border on Film. There's no real romance sidebar. There's no shopping scene. As in the book, the story stays centered on the plight and courage of the black maids, Minnie + Abilene, and the white, single, career-focused Skeeter (a minority herself) to take up a cause not endorsed by the Junior League.
You'll hear the N word. You'll gasp a little at things said and done. If you're a white Southern woman, you'll be a little embarassed, even in 2011 'cause we all still know a Miss Hilly...and may even have her on our Christmas card list.
In the end, though, you'll laugh through your tears. And as the credits roll, you just might clap, as everyone in the theater did last night.
The Help opens everywhere August 12.