FILM REVIEW: “The Help”

Yesterday I went and saw the film “The Help” which is based on the best selling book of the same title written by Kathryn Stockett. I read the book last year and couldn’t put it down, so naturally I was hyphy when I found out it was made into a film.

“The Help” is about the unchallenged segregated race relations in the 1960s civil-rights era in the Southern state of Mississippi. A young white woman, a recent Ol’ Miss journalism graduate nicknamed Skeeter (Emma Stone) begins to dangerously document the stories of African American house maids (the help). The injustices of their treatment are realised as two brave maids, Aibileen (Viola Davis) (who narrates the film) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) agree to disclose their quiet sufferings. 

Aibileen Clark is the epitome of deferential politeness with a “m’am” at the end of every utterance. Yet her eyes speak volumes about the pain and anger she feels. She embodies the strange contradiction experienced by many a black maid or nanny who suffers abuse at the hands of white employers yet has lavished boundless love and devotion on the 17 white children she has raised. However, bitterness has crept into her soul since the death of her beloved son.

Meanwhile Spencer’s scrappy Minny Jackson, Aibileen’s best friend and the best cook in the county, provides not only comic relief but a feistiness that shows that some maids found the gumption and means to get back at overbearing employers. Hers is a great character, the antithesis of Gone With the Wind’s Mammy, and she nearly upends this movie with her righteous sass.”

 –The Hollywood Reporter

 

Eventually other maids agree to tell their stories in secret and with anonymity given the dangerous punishments enforceable by the State in that era.

The group of white women the maids work for in short, are bitches. Especially Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) who creates a home sanitation scheme whereby ‘the help’ are to have their own bathrooms constructed, not for the leisure of their use but for the fact they believe black people carry diseases which white people can catch through use of common facilities. Hilly would be what I would classify as the KKK Grand Wizard of Jackson, Mississippi. She gets joy out of exerting her legal superiority over the black maids and in short, making their lives hell. Watch out for Sissy Spacek’s character, as Hilly’s mother, she is an absolute riot!

One thing I found so ironic, was the fact that these racist women would have town fundraisers for children in poverty in Africa (and brag on their Christian generosity) yet treat their African descended domestic assistants like slaves?! Then again, that’s not too far from what we experience here in Australia with my people. White Australian’s are more than happy to sponsor people in ‘third world countries’ and pat themselves on the back for doing so, yet refuse to acknowledge and contribute towards improving the third world living conditions that Aboriginal people the first nations people live in, in our own country. Ignorance is bliss ain’t it?

After watching this film, it makes me so hugely grateful for the fact that I am not living in an era under such blatant race segregationist policies. I appreciate the strength of those black/first nations people around the world who were subjected to such injustices merely by their time of birth and race. The adversity and hate they overcame to carry on day after day, and the fights they fought to bring us to the society that  we now have where I can drink from the same tap, drink at the same bar, choose my life partner, move freely without a permit and have freedom of employment choice. Let us not forget these freedom fighters.

This film stays true to the book, is full of shocking gasps of disgusting inequity, laugh out loud moments when the maids get one up on their employees, and times of extreme sadness. The film goes for almost 3 hours, and honestly I did not even notice, the storyline kept me hanging on every scene.

I loved “The Help”, I highly recommend it to anyone that is passionate about social justice, is interested in the historical civil rights era, has had family growing up in the South, or fell in love with the book. Go see it, you won’t regret it!

Fancye scale: 5 / 5

For those of you who have seen “The Help” what did you think of the film? Comment below or Tweet me.

Miss Fancye

xo

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