It's a very well-made film, in every respect, reminiscent of The Secret Life of Bees, paralleling it in tone and themes, such as having a strong, nearly predominant female presence throughout, and there's nothing wrong with that.
I would have to say that the strongest aspect of the film was the acting, which was solid all around. I felt that Viola Davis' and Octavia Spencer's characters were typical, but appropriate, for a movie such as this. Even Cicely Tyson's character was typical, as I was used to seeing her as the wise old woman in the roles that I've witnessed her in. But in light of this, they still delivered solid performances, which is consistent with their previous work.
However, I think the show-stoppers of this feature were Bryce Dallas Howard and Emma Stone. Bryce Dallas Howard showed her versatility as an actress, even moreso in this film, portraying a character that she's never done before, which served as a great foil for Emma Stones' character. Emma Stone, on the other hand, from Easy A, to Crazy, Stupid Love, to this film, continues to portray these imperfect, yet virtuous, female characters, and this seems to be her niche in the business. She continues to surprise me with every movie that I see her in, and this film was no different. And not to sound vain, but Emma Stone, in the shadow of a lot of other actresses, is not the most attractive (which is a theme in this film), but her skills as an actress, accompanied with her body of work, give her a confidence and a classy air that shines through in every performance, and I think this makes her one of the best of the young, rising stars in Hollywood. And before I move forward, I wanted to give two thumbs up to Jessica Chastain, who I knew and still know nothing about, but who played the world's most lovable naive blonde.
I would recommend this film to anyone, though it didn't hit me like I thought it would. Like the Secret Life of Bees, it was sweet, it was heartfelt, an overall good film, but for some reason, I failed to connect with it completely, though I connected with it in other ways. Strangely enough, I can't pinpoint the reason, because I have no particular complaints about it. But there were moments where this film shined and hit me at my core, and I think it was these moments, even small things throughout, that made this film what it was, and that's most definitely not a bad thing.