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Review: The Help

Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011

Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011 16:08

The Help

Dale Robinette, Dreamworks

The Help

Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer

Directed by Tate Taylor

Rated PG-13

Grade: B+

 

"The Help" is a movie that's as entertaining as it is moving, taking viewers on a trip through the ‘60s in segregated Mississippi.

Emma Stone ("Zombieland" "Superbad") plays Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a 20-something college grad who wants to be a writer. She's not the norm in the south at this time; most of her other friends are married with children (or with one on the way).

She lands a job at the local paper writing a column answering questions about home care and cleaning and doesn't know where to start to answer them. So she turns to Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), a black maid working for one of Skeeter's friends.

One day, Skeeter gets inspired to find out more about Aibileen's life, so she starts to interview her. Skeeter is technically breaking the law being in such close quarters with someone who is black, but she really doesn't give too much care to it. Emma Stone is golden in this role and brings so much heart to this sometimes difficult piece of history. The interviewing quickly turns in to several hour-long sessions in which Skeeter and Aibileen discuss what it's like to be a member of the help.

Soon, Skeeter is coming to Aibileen's home regularly, speaking with more and more maids about the injustices they're facing and what it feels like to work to raise white children when their own children are being raised by someone else while they're at work.

Based on a book by Kathryn Stockett, this story is full of well-rounded and complex characters, and that really comes across on the big screen. Davis becomes the incredibly strong backbone of the film and veteran Sissy Spacek is perfect as the apathetic lush mother whose allegiances shift as easily as her attitude.

The film is chock full of some of the great actresses today, including Stone and Davis, as well as Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and Cicely Tyson.

Director Tate Taylor nimbly extracts the heart from a novel about a pivotal point in America history and turns it into a film that is emotional, funny and heartwarming, all in one.

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