Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett, The Help is a film set in the 1960s in Mississippi following the story of female black maids. Emma Stone plays Skeeter, an aspiring journalist and novelist who aims to portray the black maid's point of view and the reality of working for the southern white women. The secret writing project that Skeeter undertakes is dangerous for all involved as it breaks societal rules as well as a law. This further demonstrates the oppression the black servants faced even in the 60s.
The Help was extremely inspiring as it demonstrated how one person can make a change. It also showed me the harsh reality that black maids faced every day and was quite heart breaking to experience. The film showed the audience how the maids would care for a child completely from birth until adulthood. The children would love the maids as if they were their own mothers – as their mothers would often ignore them completely – but in the end they all turned out like their own parents and the cycle would begin again. It was a really powerful message and shocked me that I did not know how badly these women were treated.
Emma Stone did a fantastic job of presenting her character to the audience, in my opinion. She displayed her character with spot on humour. Although, the only thing I could disagree with were the references to her being 'ugly'. How anybody could ever describe Emma Stone as 'ugly' is beyond me. However, I do feel that Emma Stone did well in portraying a slightly 'geeky' and almost 'gangly' character. This portrayed how her character did not completely fit into societal expectations which made her the perfect friend to several of the black maids whose story she begins to write in the film.
The actors were incredibly well chosen. Bryce Dallas Howard played Miss Hilly, who is friends with Skeeter. She was incredibly judgemental of black women and was one of the harsher characters. However, Bryce Dallas Howard acted this in a perfected and believable way. Viola Davis played Aibileen Clark, the main black maid of the story. I felt a very strong emotional tie to this character. Viola Davis gave a very strong performance and brought a connection together between the audience and the black maids. Octavia Spencer plays Minny Jackson - a hilarious character who brings a lot of humour even with the sensitive issues explored in the film.
The only thing I can fault is that I personally didn't understand the historical context and references. If I had read the book beforehand then perhaps this would not have been a problem. Maybe the film was scripted for those that had read the book, as the Harry Potter films were also criticised on occasion for. It may be due to that factor or it may be that the audience were expected to be aware of some of the American history of the time. I did not, but that doesn't mean that you wouldn't. As a huge bookworm, I am disappointed that I did not read the book first as I know they are often better than the film adaptation. But no matter how much I enjoy the book, I feel that the film will still not be discredited. The acting was sharp and the story line was inspiring.
If you are looking for an inspirational film then this is definitely for you. If you are interested, as I was, in the black maids of the 1960s then your eyes will be opened by this remarkable portrayal. Reading the book is next on my to-do list and I am sure I won't be disappointed.