Based on the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett, The Help follows the lives of a group of Jackson, Mississippi women during the 1960s and reveals the often-concealed reality of racial discrimination in America. The film adaptation stars Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer as Aibileen Clark and Milly Jackson, two black maids who divulge their experiences of working in white households to Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone), an aspiring writer who plans to compile their stories into an engaging exposé. The three women come into constant conflict with their high society employers, led by the icy and ignorant Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard). Through the help’s tales of turmoil, tragedy and injustice, shocking and shameful examples of racial bigotry are unfolded. The fact that strong prejudice perspectives against African-American citizens ran rampant only less than fifty years ago is difficult to grasp, but The Help reminds viewers that such close-minded opinions still exist in present-day society. However, hope is offered through The Help’s memorable and compelling characters: in the resilience of Aibileen, in the courage of Milly, in the ambition of Skeeter and in the tolerance of blonde bombshell and society outcast, Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain). With great humour and tremendous heart, The Help delivers an important message about realizing one’s potential and using one’s voice – a powerful tool that can make a positive difference in society.
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
Rating: ****½ / 5