The Help review – 4 stars

Another film based on a bestselling book…it’s a steady stream nowadays. Yet, The Help raised a few eyebrows. The adaptation of the 2009 novel was the surprise summer hit of 2011, getting to no.1 in the US Box Office, but that was not the reason why.
The inspiring tale of the tell-all tale from the viewpoint of African American maids is also a charming one. Emma Stone plays wide-eyed Skeeter, an aspiring writer whose modern views on ‘the help’ conflict with those of her narrow minded peers. This eventually leads to two maids, Abeline and Minny played with gusto and emotion by the wonderful Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, telling Skeeter all about their lives working in the homes of white families.
Davis and Spencer weave charm and in latter’s case, humour into their roles, making them a refreshing change to the overly dramatic and hardhearted characters of today’s dramadies.
Supporting roles range from the conflicted Allison Janney to all-round emotionless Queen Bee Bryce Dallas Howard, whose outlook on social classes stem from an uninformed view on racial discrimination.
The film raises eyebrows not because of the leading actresses, nor fresh faced direction of Tate Taylor, but the fact that it took a young white woman to get two African American women to speak out. This says a lot about social equality nowadays as it seems to show that these women, after all they have been through whether it’s at the hands of their employers, spouses or even the local community, cannot bring themselves to speak out unless they have someone to hide behind – in this case, the modern-thinking Skeeter.
This brings about a sour point in an otherwise thought-provoking film. Abruptly ending and slightly overlong it may be, the performances from the three female leads and the authenticity of the setting covers the cracks in an otherwise charming film.

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