The Help

(M) Disney DVD/BD

Based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett and written for the screen and directed by Tate Taylor, The Help follows the story of three brave women who choose to take a stand against injustice.

When Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) returns home to Jackson, Mississippi her head is filled with dreams of becoming a successful writer. Being a young woman in a 1960s — a male-dominated world — the best job she can acquire is authorship of a newspaper’s cleaning advice column.

The young housewives that Skeeter counts among her friends have followed the southern tradition of hiring black maids to cook, clean and raise their children. Despite their hard work and often-lifelong commitment to these families, the maids are considered second-class citizens.

Skeeter seeks advice for her column from veteran maid Aibileen (Viola Davis) a quiet, hard-working woman who has raised 17 white children over the course of her career.

A story as much about ignorance as injustice, the young women of Jackson are only re-enforcing the lifestyle they were brought up in and their ringleader Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) wants to take discrimination a step further by passing a legal notice that all white houses must have a separate bathroom for “the help” to use.

As Skeeter becomes increasingly disillusioned, she is prompted to publish an anonymous, tell-all account from the perspective of “the help”.

At first reluctant and afraid of losing her job, Aibileen’s strong faith in God and her best friend Minny (Octavia Spencer) give her strength to speak.

With a wonderful cast, the highlight of The Help is its strong performances, including the scene-stealing Octavia Spencer as Minny. Newcomer Jessica Chastain (Tree of Life) gives an endearing turn as the bubbly, naïve blond bombshell Celia Foote. It is truly a joy to watch as her kindness softens the hardened, no-nonsense Minny.

A movie about friendship, forgiveness and standing up for what’s right, The Help is a surprisingly well-rounded film with the ability to make you laugh as well as cry.

Jasmine Edwards

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