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Emma Stone stars as aspiring journalist and author Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan in The Help, which hits theaters — kicking off awards season — on Wednesday. The movie is an adaptation from Kathryn Stockett‘s bestselling book of the same name.
Stone’s star is rising as she has three major movies out concurrently. In addition to The Help, she also has Stupid, Crazy, Love and Friends With Benefits in theaters.
What are the critics saying about Stone’s performance in The Help, which exposes racial tensions in Jim Crow-era Mississippi?
“Stone is one of our very best young actresses and she acquits herself well in this role,” Kirk Honeycutt writes in his review in The Hollywood Reporter. “She makes you imagine that this might be how Scout from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird might have turned out had she become a journalist: Too inquisitive, sensitive and empathetic not to brush aside the common wisdom of the day to see eternal truths about human beings.”
The Los Angeles Times‘ Betsy Sharkey also thinks Stone works well in the role.
“Skeeter has always been a pea without a pod, which makes it a perfect fit for Stone’s distinctive brand of authenticity. This is an actress who willingly lets her jaw drop and eyes roll, but in the most natural of ways,” Sharkey writes.
The Miami Herald‘s Connie Ogle says Stone gives “a heartfelt performance [as] a socially awkward college graduate with dreams of becoming a writer, much to the dismay of her traditionally minded mother (Allison Janney).”
But the New York Daily News‘ Elizabeth Weitzman, who gave the movie two stars, thinks Stone was miscast.
“Emma Stone… is no one’s idea of an ugly duckling,” Weitzman writes. In the book, Skeeter never quite fits in with her southern, Junior League friends. “And though she offers a sincere effort, she never quite settles into the role of Skeeter, an aspiring author whose plain looks and spinster status — at age 23 — horrify her beauty-queen mother (Allison Janney, also miscast).
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