It is 1963 in Jackson, Mississippi and Skeeter Phelan has just graduated college and returned home with dreams of becoming a journalist. To begin, she has gotten a job at the local newspaper writing the cleaning how to column. While interviewing her friend’s maids for advice, Skeeter decides to write a novel about the perspective of the black maid. Illegal under Jim Crow law, Skeeter and her two main contributors Aibileen and Minny have to meet in secret to share their stories of working for white families. During the early sixties in the south, racism and segregation were alive and well as the Civil Rights Movement was just starting. Faced with daily prejudice and racist employers the maids tell stories about the struggles they experience raising white children who one day will be the boss. Skeeter is amazed to hear the stories of inequality and sometimes downright abuse by her life long friends and family, but through her anonymous book she hopes to show the world how a modern city like Jackson, Mississippi can still be a slave to its own prejudice and racism.
The Help is based on a novel by the same name written by Kathryn Stockett. A New York Times bestseller, the story was a perfect candidate to be told on the big screen. The Help is an entertaining film that makes you feel the gamut of human emotion from laughter to tears, anger to love, and heartbreak to victory. Not just a chick flick, The Help is a movie that both men and women will enjoy. Not only will the public enjoy this film but I also have a feeling that it will become one of the Academy’s darlings and be honored with more than one nomination this January. Director Tate Taylor, who also helped write the screenplay, uses gripping and dramatic emotion as she tells the story of a unique sisterhood that comes together to expose the life of the black maid in the South.
The acting in this movie is nothing short of spectacular as each character is well cast. Emma Stone (Easy A) plays Skeeter Phelan and she proves that she is more than just a lead for the tween-teen audience. Viola Davis (Doubt) is perfection as Aibileen Clark. Her portrayal of a shy and timid woman who collects the courage to tell her story is bound for recognition. Octavia Spencer (Seven Pounds) plays Minny Jackson and she is a force to be reckoned with. Her performance is also Oscar worthy. Bryce Dallas Howard (Lady in the Water) proves that she is not just some famous director’s daughter but a true talent as the racist Hilly Holbrook. Other notables include Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life), Cicely Tyson (Fried Green Tomatoes), Sissy Spacek (Coal Miner’s Daughter) and Allison Janney (Juno). All of these women make an amazing ensemble cast with their superior acting, uncommon beauty, expressive portrayals. All in all, The Help is a breakthrough on the silver screen just waiting to be honored with Oscar gold.