Emma Stone stars as Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan in Director Tate Taylor’s PG-13 screen adaptation of Kathryn Stocket’s novel “The Help”. A new college graduate, Skeeter returns to her parent’s cotton farm in Jackson, Mississippi where she is instantly confronted with her family and friend’s disapproval that she not only graduated without a husband but is seeking a job in journalism. Returning home means Skeeter is expected to eagerly fall back into her role as the daughter of one of Jackson’s foremost prominent white families and involve herself in the weekly bridge club and Junior League and do all she can to quickly procure a husband.
While Skeeter does what is expected of her she also does something for herself and lands a job at the local newspaper writing the housekeeping advice column. Knowing full well she knows nothing about house keeping Skeeter seeks out her friend’s, Elizabeth Leefold (Ahna O’Reilly), African-American maid Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) for help in answering her reader’s questions. Meanwhile, Skeeter’s close friend Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) is using her influence as the community’s social leader and head of the Junior League to lead her campaign against the “colored” help using the same indoor bathrooms as their white employers. It is with this issue Skeeter begins to see how the African-American maids are treated so differently from white people.
Following this social awakening Skeeter is determined to write a book from the maid’s perspectives in order to reveal the truth of such injustices. However, Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960’s was no friend to the African-American and it proved a challenge to convince even one maid to agree to tell her story for fear for her life. Eventually, however, Aibileen musters up her courage and she and Skeeter begin a dangerous partnership which could prove socially detrimental for Skeeter, but deadly for Aibileen. Aibileen’s friend, Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer), is eventually convinced to join them and the three women, one white, two African-American, begin a journey which could prove to be fatal for them all, but a source of freedom too.
I highly recommend “The Help” as a movie and book. For those book to movie purists I was pleasantly surprised at how the movie rarely strays from Kathryn Stocket’s original creation. A few minor details are added, such as Sissy Spacek’s hilarious portrayal of Hilly Holbrook’s mother, Missus Walters, but overall the story remains the same. Parents, due to the realistic portrayal of racism I would not recommend “The Help” for anyone younger then Junior High. However, the worldview presented here is one I do recommend and encourage a discussion with your children following the film. The director and actors skillfully bring to life the injustices of racism and prove that no matter what the color of your skin we are all made in the image of God and deserve to be treated as such. There is absolutely no room for racism in this world and “The Help” is a skilled reminder of such…. by Stephanie Spurgetis