By Katie Grosser
AKRON, Ohio, U.S.A. – “The Help,” a film adaptation of the 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett, calls itself a comedy drama.
After two and a half hours, viewers are bound to feel that this movie does not only deliver both comedy and drama, but also the opportunity for older generations to revisit their youth and young adulthood and younger generations to connect with the past.
Set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, the movie explores the relationship between the white women of the town and the black women who work their whole lives as “the help,” which is marked both by intimacy and love as well as a certain distance due to the racial lines.
Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, played by Emma Stone, is a college graduate returning to Jackson with her heart set on being a journalist, novelist or both.
She sets out to interview the maids in town in order to document their side of the story and perspective on life as “the help.”
She enlists the help of Aibileen, played by Viola Davis, a maid who has raised white children her whole life and at the same time serves as the film’s narrator.
Aibileen’s friend Minny, played by Octavia Spencer, a fellow maid who not only is a first-class cook but also a sassy employee with a secret to hide, joins the twosome.
The small project grows as tensions in Jackson rise and more and more maids come forth to tell their stories.
Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny each face their own personal difficulties on the path of telling the truth to the world.
The result of their work is a book which documents the lives of “the help” – both the bad and the good – and causes quite a stir in town upon publication.
With both laugh-out-loud as well as tear-inducing moments, “The Help” is entertaining and touching all at once.
Readers of the novel will recognize changes from the original, but the overall plot remains the same.
The excellent cast, paired with a moving story and music from the ‘60s, makes a visit to the movies worth every cent.