A few months before Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel The Help came out, I was at my favorite indie bookstore, Warwicks, and they were abuzz about an advance reading copy they had of this new book by a new voice. You will love it, they told me. And she’s coming here when the book releases!
When your favorite indie bookstore is that excited about a new book, you listen! I went to hear Kathryn Stockett speak at Warwicks in 2009 before I had even read the book. She charmed and wooed us, the throngs of us packed inside the book store. I bought her book, she signed it to me, and I sent home and devoured it. It was my favorite read of 2009. And I blogged about then, of course.
So I was more than ready for the movie version, and near to hyperventilating when my husband and I got pre-screening tickets to see it this week, before it is released into the wild. I left the theater spellbound. I loved it. Can’t wait to see it again.
It’s incredibly difficult, I would imagine, to smush a 500+ page book into a 2½-hour movie. There have to be things in the pages of the book that can’t show up in the screenshots in the movie. But I have to say, I was amazed at how respectful the screenwriters were to Ms. Stockett’s story and her unforgettable characters. They had a fabulous story to work with, and characters bursting with originality, but still, to capture the story and characters we loved into the arena of the visual so well is a wonder.
I was drawn in at the get-go with the fictive world Dreamworks created. Maybe it’s because I was already in love with these characters, but honestly, wouldn’t that make me more critical of someone else’s interpretation of what they looked and sounded like? I loved the attention to detail, the camera angles, the costuming, the sets, the sound track, the way you could almost taste Minny’s fried chicken – and maybe even her chocolate pie, if you know what I mean.
Aside from the movie’s artistic gifts, the moral takeaway was soundly woven in every minute of film. Someone asked me after I had seen it if it was family-friendly. It depends on the age of the child, I said. The occasional use of the S word is integral to the story. It is not there for ratings. It is the story. But I wouldn’t hesitate to take a 12-year-old. In fact, every 12-year-old and older should see it. Children are the adults of tomorrow. They bring into their adulthood what they were taught in in their childhood.