Monday, September 26, 2011

Black and White

I first saw the trailer for 'The Help' waiting for another movie to start... of course. It immediately woke me up to the sixties again and the incredible neatness and weirdness of that world. Who would have thought you could 'back comb' your hair to a 'bee hive', spray it into submission and walk around like that?

Well, here it is again. Not as bouncy as 'Happy Days' but initially, clean cut and orderly and round and about this sanitised post war dream, The Help moves silently, cleaning and correcting the mess left by their employers. Heaven help them.

The idle wives of busy men 'gang aft awry' and this lot do. What could you expect from women who were cossetted and protected with little to do but invent the sins of others and the inadequacies of their own lives?

The highlights of this for me were the wonderful black cast and the 'outlaw' white women. Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark and Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson play the two main black characters and they are beyond compare. Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote was a standout. Cicely Tyson as Constantine Bates plucked at the heartstrings as the older black woman but it saddened me to see her aging - I have missed out on her work for all those intervening years.

You get a glimpse of the mad underwear in another of Allison Janney's great performances as Charlotte Phelan, the heroine's mother. And yes, we did wear those ridiculous but strangely comforting undergarments.

Director Tate Taylor really does bring back that time and thank God we have the actors to bring it ALL back, in black and white.