The Help

How’s that for starters? Went from Hackney  PictureHouse eaterie having enjoyed watching the mums and babies  as they came out of The Big Scream Club and the helping of  the latest film,”Liberal Arts” and got myself a lift to the Rio Cinema in Dalston where for free “The Help” was being screened to seniors who were out in overcoats and force with bags and sticks. Every month there’s “Classic Matinee” with its free screening dished up with tea and cake. All good. Over 60s go free and so do  their carers.

I resisted “The Help” after having seen the trailers and having read all the  hype from inclusive Christian and/or  black promoters . I refused to waste my money but today in order to have an informed opinion I forced myself to go the the Rio’s free screening.

Now the screening remember is for seniors so it was kinda different trying to lip read US southern drawl at the same time as audience members were hollering and snoring. Those that hollered did so because because they are ill and because they can. Coincidentally I am on a medical research programme which investigates hearing amidst cacophony!

The film is packed with stereotypes; air-headed skinny white women in 60s prints and obvious wigs, and second generation black mammies with their straightened hair, fuller figures, perky bras and mood swings going from aggressive angst to tearful put upon droops. The catalyst to the story, the film’s star is the earnest do-gooding white journalist, Skeeter, who  is just not in the era. Her hair and body are Metroland 2012. Another floozie straight out of “Barbie” who hugs (?) her newly-hired maid and belongs to tv’s The Wives of Orange State is sheer nonsense.

There were the token scenes showcasing black people on a bus (even a black maid on a bus), bright yellow uniformed gospel singers in a black church, one poor family’s group of children sharing a bed, and the “ugly” white child telling her maid that she’s her real mummy. Cue sympathy aahs from the Rio audience.  Irritation after irritation. Ugh. The film lived up to my expectations and I was wasting my eyes.

What was it for? Who was it for? It was obviously wheeled out again for Hackney’s Black History Month because “The Help” has done the pictures’ rounds already. It’s not in the “classic” genre. It can only be compared with “Gone With the Wind” and “The Color Purple” because it’s a film about black people back in the day. “Gone With The Wind” which was referenced in the film (Hmm! Bit of culture crept in) is class and has an heroine in the wise black and loyal servant come seer . “The Color Purple” is the celebration of matriarchal blackness .”The Help” is the culmination of film-makers getting an imagined black sisterhood story and hoping we are naive enough to call it a film success.

There is some excellent acting in “The Help”.

I left my cake and tea and seat for someone else as my patience ran thin. Far-fetched nonsense.


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