‘The Help’ Reviews: Strong As (Emma) Stone

FROM MTV MOVIES: “It feels kind of scary saying this because that means it’s only downhill, but it’s been the best year of my life,” Emma Stone told MTV News late last year as we honored her as the actress we were most thankful for in 2010.

The past eight months, however, have hardly been downhill, and Stone might soon have to rework her conception of a superlative year. The year 2011 has seen Stone, among other things, nominated for her first Golden Globe, film her lead role in “The Amazing Spider-Man” and win advance plaudits for a dramatic, yet at times comedic, turn in “The Help,” which hit theaters Wednesday (August 10).

In a summer filled with wizards and robots and all manner of nasty alien invaders, some critics are pointing to “The Help” as perhaps the finest drama of the season, highlighting not only Stone’s performance, but that of Viola Davis, who could well be part of the upcoming awards-season hubbub. Other reviewers, though, haven’t been as kind, citing a jumbled story structure and an overall maudlin tone that distracts from the weighty themes of the film. Read on for those critiques and more:

The Story
“What the film lacks is a strong point of view. The story is all over the place on that front, bouncing from one perspective to another. … Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone) has just graduated from college in Mississippi in the 1960s and returned home. The town is divided, Black and White, and nowhere is this more evident than in Skeeter’s social circle, young women married as soon as possible, raising children — or, more accurately, having their children raised by the Black women who work for them. … Skeeter wants to be a serious writer, and a New York editor (Mary Steenburgen) needs something to judge her on. So Skeeter, having gotten a job at the local newspaper writing a housecleaning column, asks Clark for help with tips. But what she really wants is to know how the ’help’ is treated, about the world from their perspective, for a book.” — Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic

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