The Help

I was part of a packed, vocal, enthusiastic screening audience who appreciated every minute of this marvelous snapshot of the segregated 60s in Jackson, Mississippi, when Jim Crow laws were still in effect.

The stories, based on Kathryn Stockett's phenomenally successful (and beloved) novel, are female-centric, as they focus on the relationships among the women, black and white, employee and employer, complete with abuse of power, sincere affection, bitchiness, and well-founded fear. The men in the audience were equally vocal because men in this story are not demonized: Racism and ignorance are the villains here.

The casting is to die for:
  • Viola Davis ("It's Kind of a Funny Story") is Aibileen, the heart, brains and soul of this wonderful story.
  • Emma Stone ("Crazy, Stupid, Love") is Skeeter, the well-meaning young wannabe writer. She is told by her New York publisher to hurry with her book about black domestics working for prominent white families, before "this whole civil-rights thing blows over."
  • Octavia Spencer ("Dinner For Schmucks") is Minny, who has most of the funny lines. I know the word "sassy" is overworked, but this sister is sassy! And in case you read the book, YES, she does bake that pie! (Spencer won an Oscar for this role.)
  • Bryce Dallas Howard ("Hereafter") is Hilly, the witch we love to hate. Her comeuppance can't come any too soon and is greeted with cheers from the audience.
  • Jessica Chastain ("Jolene") is Celia, the lost soul taken under the warm wing of her maid where she learns some necessary survival skills.
  • Allison Janney ("Life During Wartime") is Charlotte, our writer's mother, who has her own heart-breaking story.
  • Sissy Spacek ("Get Low") is Missus Walters, she just wants Ambrosia salad, a bit of sherry and her "soaps." Her glee when her nasty daughter hits a rough patch is infectious.
  • Cicely Tyson ("Why Did I Get Married Too?") is Constantine, the elderly domestic who is wrongfully fired.
  • David Oyelowo ("The Rise of the Planet of the Apes") is Preacher Green, the local neighborhood preacher. This adroit actor was born in the U.K.
I'm frustrated because time and space do not permit me to include all the deserving names. Suffice it to say, the talent in this cast is broad and deep.

This PG-13 film has no profanity; domestic abuse is only implied; and you will see no gunfights, car chases or blowie uppie stuff. Teenagers can learn what our world was like just a few short decades ago. They will be shocked!

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Here is a link to a preview:
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