When the movie is better than the book, I wonder if I missed something when I read or if the cinema version was that much changed. David Denby in his New Yorker analysis, Maids of Honor, offered a clear comparison of the “The Help” in print and on the screen – with an explanation for why I liked the movie much more than the book.
Stockett struggled with the language in the book, and was criticized for the “voices of the black women,” but Denby points out that Tate Taylor’s adaptation for film and the quality of the lead actresses infused Stockett’s words with authenticity in a way the book could not do:
“Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis, both great actresses, have given Stockett’s words the shape, the rhythm, and the pitch of their own temperaments. They sound right.”
The message is still the same, but the film goes further to reveal another truth. The oppression and depression extended to the closed-minded white daughters of the South – Denby assures us that “they are victims too.” Stockett offers Skeeter as the foil against her gossipy villains, but these women seem more pathetic than powerful when you see their lacquered hair, print dresses, and cold mindless expressions on the big screen.
On a continuum, I’d rate:
→the book≈ good →→ the movie ≈ better →→→ Denby’s article ≈ best →→→↑
Have you read the book and/or seen the movie? What do you think?
Read my review of book, “The Help” – here