Based on the popular best-selling novel of the same name The Help is a heart-rending and often humourous look at race relations in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi.
It was a time when well off white folks hired black women as maids, who also raised the children in the white family. But while the black women were equal enough to raise the children they were not equal enough to use the same bathroom in the house as the whites. Hard to believe today, but sadly true.
Emma Stone plays a young woman (raised by her family’s black maid) who sees the injustice of it all and of the place of women generally in society at the time. She writes a book about it, interviewing black maids she knows, especially two wonderfully played by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (there’s already Oscar nominaton buzz about their performances).
At the time promoting equality between the races was actually a crime in Mississippi, so all those involved with the book are taking a big risk.
Lots of good performances in this film, including one from Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays the racial bigot who gets hers in the end, and Jessica Chastain, who despite being white, is socially shunned by the big shots in town. Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson and Alison Janney are good too.
This is an enjoyable, heart-warming film, although the characters tend to be too black and white (no pun intended). It will make you laugh and it should make you angry.
Rating: five out of five
Next Week on Video
It’s a good one with Hanna and X-Men: First Class.
Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.