Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s when the KKK is murdering innocent people from the black community, uptight housewives are trying to implement a rule that ‘the help’ must use outside toilets and black maids are bringing up white children to try and make money to feed their own, the type of correspondence between Minny, Aibleen and Skeeter is dangerous and against the law.
Emma Stone takes on the role of Euginia Phelan, or Skeeter as she’s lovingly nicknamed thanks to her crazy curls and pale skin. Skeeter is underestimated and not what society would deem ‘pretty’, a rich white girl who has returned to Jackson after four years of university determined to kick start her writing career with a bang. Octavia Spencer plays “sass-mouthed” Minny, the maid of ring leader Hilly Holbrook, played brilliantly uptight by Bryce Dallas Howard while relative newcomer Viola Davis plays cautious yet devoted Aibleen, maid of the impressionable Elizabeth Leefolt. We see how Hilly casts her wildly racist opinions across her group of friends, expecting everyone to follow suit – everyone but Skeeter, who is determined to change attitudes in her home town.
It was refreshing to experience a screenplay which has stuck to its book roots – The Help does just this. There are the odd things cut out, but after over two hours of the final cut, you can forgive the screen writers for doing so and these parts are definitely not entirely significant to the story. The cast is stellar – from Bryce Dallas Howards’ brazen and hateful display as Hilly, to the touching yet at points hilarious performances from Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as best friends Aibleen and Minny who stick by each other through thick and thin. If you’ve read the book you will have a soft spot for Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain) – married to Hilly’s old flame and whose life is being made miserable by her after hearing she is not only living in Jackson, but has hired Minny after she was ceremoniously fired by Hilly. Celia has a heartbreaking story of her own, making her even more vulnerable to Hilly’s vicious behaviour.
The Help will have you laughing one minute and crying the next, it has hope, heartbreak and despair but will ultimately leave you with a feeling of faith that it can sometimes only take one act of courage to change the world. Add to that heartbreaking tales of love, death, struggle, domestic violence and growing up fast and you have one hell of a movie.
The Help is out now in cinemas nationwide.