‘The Help’ delivers its message with ‘heartfelt sincerity’

Jessica Froula

Not your typical action, romance, or horror based flick, one movie about a few African-American servants in the South has proven itself to be much more attractive to audiences than other genres currently filling up the box office. Even though The Help has already been out for three weeks, it is still topping the charts for the most watched movie in theaters. An adaptation of a novel with the same name by Kathryn Stockett, the film takes viewers back in time to the beginning of the civil rights movement and tells its story from a unique perspective—the servants. The story centers on a young college graduate named Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone), who gets a job as a columnist at the local newspaper. To write her cleaning advice column, she seeks experienced insight from the local servants. The first woman she talks to is Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), who comes from several generations of “help” just like her. One interview leads to another, and soon she decides to write a book entirely from the perspective of the black servants in her Southern community. This decision is the catalyst that sparks the rest of the film’s action. Others who help create the authentic feel of The Help include Aibileen’s best friend Minny Jackson (Octavia L. Spencer), and Skeeter’s racist friend Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard). Director Tate Taylor did an excellent job of selecting actresses and actors who allow the viewers to clearly see the realities of discrimination in the 1960s. As Skeeter gains more and more positive attention from Jackson, Mississippi’s maids, the wealthy white families with whom they all live are increasingly scorning her. The film contains a healthy mix of sadness and humor, wrapping it all up with a thought-provoking message that viewers can take outside of the theater. The only detail that may keep this movie from perfection is that Taylor is not a seasoned film director and producer, and while the movie does not have anything extraordinary as far as cinematography, it makes up for it with heartfelt sincerity. In addition to providing valuable insight into the challenges of racism, The Help is a wonderfully charming movie that is great for the whole family to see. Overall rating: 10/10