It’s the 1960s in the Southern States of America during the Civil Rights Movement and Skeeter, a college graduate has returned to her hometown Jackson, Mississippi to gain experience in journalism by writing in a cleaning advice column for the local newspaper to reach her aspiration as a journalist for a big publishing firm in New York. But− she doesn’t know the first thing about cleaning, so she seeks the help of Aibileen Clark, a black housemaid. When she gets the opportunity to write a book about something that bothers her, she decides to write about the lives of the help and asks housemaids, who have cared for white families for generations, to tell their stories. They refuse to at first, but after a series of eye-opening events, they realise that this book could mean changing the lives of many others who suffer for the better even if it means putting themselves at risk. This is a moving story about racism, sexism, discrimination, levels in society, and relationships.
The Help follows the story of Eugenia Phelan (Skeeter) (Emma Stone), who believes in the equality of races. I loved her as a character because she actually had her own opinions and stood up for them unlike some people. When she recognised that the housemaids were being abused, belittled and discriminated to the point of absolute inhumanity, she wasn’t apathetic and did something about it. At first, she was quite naïve about her decision to publish content that supported the Civil Rights Movement because it was illegal. However, when she did know the consequences of her actions, she didn’t hesitate and I believe that Emma Stone portrayed her naivety and determination really well.
Aibleen (Viola Davis) was the first black maid to open up to Skeeter by telling her story. Davis was exceptional in portraying her character’s feelings because in many scenes I could see so much emotion in her face.
For example, when Abileen spoke to Skeeter about her first white baby, she didn’t need to say that she loved him very dearly because her face said it all.
“I loved that baby, and he loved me.
That’s when I learned I could make
children feel proud of they self.
Alton used to always be asking me
how come I’s black. It just ate him
- Then one time I told him it
’cause I drank too much coffee.”
Her words revealed a lot about her character because she didn’t begin by saying how mistreated she was, but about how much she loved that baby and what it meant to her to be able to make children feel proud of themselves. As she spoke, there was soft, slow piano music in the background and the camera shots were close up and at eye-level. This was effective because it allowed viewers to see the different emotions that flickered across their faces. If the camera were further away, the scene wouldn’t have had such an intimate effect. As a viewer, I couldn’t help but half laugh and half cry with her.
Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) is by far my favourite character because she just doesn’t know when to keep her mouth shut and when to keep the sass in. I thought she brought a lot of life to the movie and got a lot of laughs from viewers.
“You two give me heart palpitations.”
I believe that the most important message from this film was having courage because it shows how important it is to stand up for what you believe is right no matter who you are and without courage, there would be no storyline.
“Courage isn’t just about being brave. Courage is about doing what is right.”
I extremely enjoyed this film because it was well written, acted, filmed, and directed. The movie is 2.5 hours long, which might seem long, but every part was enjoyable and I can’t think of any scene that wasn’t essential to the plot. I got so emotionally attached to the characters when they had to suffer so much and couldn’t do anything about it! It was like a slap to the face when I realised that it was only 50 years ago that these black women were treated this way and it blows my mind that this kind of thinking was ACCEPTABLE back then and how much we have changed since then.
I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone because there is something in there for everyone. It is really eye opening and highlights the unjustness of racism and sexism while being so engaging that all eyes are glued to the screen! Therefore, it is also the perfect film for students to study because it is really important that students are educated about how important this these themes are and how they relate to present day life. No matter how or why you watch the film, I would recommend have a box of tissues next to you and to at least prepare yourself to get emotional and very passionate.