The Help

Last night I was in San Francisco at a special screening of a wonderful new film called The Help. I was honored to be the guest of Stephen and Deborah Goldblatt.


Stephen is the film’s Director of Photography. He is a world-class cinematographer whose credits include Charlie Wilson’s War, Angels in America, Closer, The Cotton Club, Prince of Tides and Julie and Julia.


Stephen is also my collaborator on A Hundred Chances: Short Meditations of Opportunity, Risk and Probability (publication forthcoming).


Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s, The Help is based on Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel. It is the story of a group of black maids, and the white families that they work for. It is a gripping indictment of American apartheid.


The Help is funny, poignant and inspiring. The cast is uniformly solid and features Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Sissy Spacek.


At the film's end, Director Tate Taylor, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Stephen discussed the film. Taylor, a childhood friend of author Kathryn Stockett, recounted the difficulty of getting both the book and the film into the world. Sixty publishers rejected The Help. And no one seemed to want to take a chance on a young, inexperienced director.


They persisted until the book was published and the movie made. You’ll be glad they did.


This is a movie for the ages; perhaps the best I’ve seen on relations between the white and black communities in the South. There is nothing out there in the theatres this summer that is quite like it.


Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy boy wizards and exploding movies as much as the next guy. But The Help’s aim is deeper. The film will be released in August. I am certain is will be a favorite during award season.


Go see it…and take your family.


© Patrick O’Neill 2011. All rights reserved.

Posted on July 12, 2011 and filed under Uncategorized.