By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
“The Help” centers on the upper crust white ladies of Jackson and the black maids who make their lifestyles possible.
It’s set in the 1960s, when many believe the march toward civil rights will blow over.
Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) returns home after studying journalism at Ole Miss. Most of her friends are married with children, and see no reason to treat their maids with anything approaching respect.
When Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) starts a drive to make it illegal for domestic servants to share bathroom facilities with their employers, Skeeter forms a plan, but she needs help.
She convinces Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) to share their experiences, and this is what makes “The Help” deeply moving.
Davis gives the film its emotional heart, as she endures petty indignities and outright nastiness, and finds the courage to tell her story.
Spencer’s performance should earn her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Minny is the movie’s main source of comedic moments, but because Spencer instills so much strength into the character, she never becomes a clown. That’s quite an accomplishment.
Stone, Howard and Allison Janney, who plays Skeeter’s mother, deliver solid performances. It also should be noted that veteran actresses Sissy Spacek and Cicely Tyson make the absolute most of their limited screen time.
The casting director for “The Help” deserves a medal because it’s truly an ensemble piece that depends on everyone carrying his or her – mostly her – weight. This group delivers.
“The Help” is adapted from the book by Mississippi author Kathryn Stockett. The screenplay was written by Tate Taylor, who also directed. It was filmed in Greenwood, and you might spot a neighbor or two in the crowd scenes.
At more than two hours in length, the movie drags at times, but I certainly don’t regret spending Saturday night in the theater.
I give “The Help” an A.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
“I loved it better than ‘Fried Green Tomatoes.” Kelli Karlson Wizard 106.7. She gives “The Help” an A plus.