“The Help” is a movie based on one of the most widely read and discussed books. Emma Stone is Skeeter, Viola Davis is Aibileen and Octavia Spence is Minny. The characters are real. You leave the theater feeling as if you have actually encountered them, and you take a little of each away with you. This speaks to the brilliance of the author and the actors translating those characters across the printed word and screen.
It is an amazing story about a young woman who dearly loved her African American nanny. Appalled by the racism she was raised with she formed a remarkable friendship with other African American maids. In her place and time this was unheard of. ‘Skeeter' had to park blocks away and take a cab to the home of her African American friend. Her friend had never before had a white guest in her home. Maids were not for befriending, they were inherited along with other property. Despite their personal feelings the only acceptable way for white females to treat maids was abysmally. Some broke the mold, like the doctor who bought 2 acres of land from his violent racist neighbor so that his maid had an easier walk to his home, most did not.
It is a poignant and honest, at times painful view of southern life in the 60’s. It emphasizes the often seen southern tight bond between mother and daughter. Some of the humorous lines are hysterical “she turned mean into a sport”. The humor gives the viewer breathing time between the ‘hold your breath’ scenes. Racism is never a comfortable topic. This movie allows the viewer to see it, to feel it, to respond to it without feeling attacked. It lays out the facts without preaching, without finger pointing. Friendship across alien boundaries and courage are the two underlying principles of the movie.
I left in tears. Grieving for what was and for how long it took us to progress, grateful for the courage of Martin Luther King Jr and the many that marched with and supported him, grieving for the cost of progress yet grateful for the resultant progress. To the author and the producer and the many fine actors who gave their realistic portrayals, and to those who brought about this progress I say ‘Bravo’.
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