Come Jan. 15, one film – Disney’s adaptation of best-selling book “The Help” – could walk away with four Golden Globes (it’s nominated for five, but two in the same category). Its chances? Damn good.
Besides being socially conscious and disgustingly relevant (racism and homophobia aren’t just yesterday’s problems), the film casts the reliably superb Viola Davis in her best role to date as put-upon Aibileen Clark, a sick-and-tired housekeeper whose tell-all with a journalist – on working for racist white women – sparks scandal in a Mississippi community.
The reporter is Skeeter Phelan, living amidst the segregated South in the ’60s, when black folks weren’t even allowed to piss in the same toilets as whites. Call it absurd, because it was – but that was the reality. And director Tate Taylor captures it remarkably so, with an impeccable cast – breakout star Octavia Spencer and one-to-watch Jessica Chastain work it for those Golden Globes nods they rightly received – to carry the heaviness of the story’s crux with levity.
The only crappy thing about it? The pie episode, but only because it is, literally, crappy. Davis is a powerhouse of pathos, rich in getting to the core of Aibileen’s pain – and her ambition to overcome it. It’s an Oscar just waiting to happen. When she walks down an empty road at the end, wary but optimistic, you watch until she’s no longer in plain sight. That’s how much she makes you care.
Also on the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack release: deleted scenes with commentary, a from-book-to-big-screen featurette and the music video for the film’s out-from-under theme song – one of Mary J. Blige’s best songs – “The Living Proof.”