HAVING READ the best selling novel The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I was sceptical about the film adaptation, as I was confident the film would not capture the pure brilliance of the book.
However, I was blown away by this comedy-drama and director Tate Taylor did a wonderful job in bringing the book to life on the big screen.
The Help is set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, where racial discrimination is rampant. The film is narrated by Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis ), who is a middle-aged black maid who has spent her life dedicating her every moment to raising white children.
Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer ) is another black maid who is quite outspoken and is seen as a difficult employee in the eyes of white people, and as a result has been fired many times. Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain ) is a naïve and loving character who ignores the rumours about Minny, and employs her.
Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan (Emma Stone - Easy A ) is a young white woman who dreams of writing, as she is an aspiring author. She is quite unlike her incredibly snobby, racist, and unfeeling friends who have no respect for black people, especially Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard ), the snooty ringleader who proposes separate bathroom facilities for the ‘coloured’ help.
Her mother’s (Alison Janney ) only wish for Skeeter is for her to be married and cannot understand why she is not, but does not stop to consider her daughter’s feelings. Skeeter is one of the few people who can look beyond someone’s skin colour and see the real person.
She sets out to write a book called The Help about the lives and stories of black maids working for white families, to reveal the truth about how unfairly black people are treated. Slowly she begins to change the lives of the women she interviews and shares her royalties with each of the maids who contribute.
This film features phenomenal performances from Ahna O’Reilly, Mike Vogel, and Chris Lowell but Stone, Davis and Howard deserve extra praise for their magnificent performances. This film is 137 minutes long but kept me entranced from start to finish. The Help is a real tearjerker with some heartbreaking scenes, yet tells a beautiful story where humour, hope, and the gentle atmosphere lighten the mood.
It is one of the best films I have seen in a while and I would definitely recommend watching it.