This time around, we have The Help, a film that simultaneously deals with the southern white culture, the black maid culture, and their interaction all within the context of the burgeoning civil rights movement.
And it does it all very, very well and seemingly very easily. So well that it earned a pile of awards during this past year’s awards season.
The story focuses on the black maids of Jackson, Mississippi and the attitudes toward them. It’s told from the perspective of one maid who has spent most of her life working to raise white kids while recently losing her own son in an accident at his job.
She’s watched as mothers neglect their children and other responsibilities of the house while letting all of that fall to the help, and she’s ready to make some waves. So when a former of the middle-class inner circle comes home from college, the opportunity presents itself.
Eventually a book is produced which offers thinly veiled anonymized stories about the maids and those they help. And the book completely turns the relationship between the two groups on its ear.
The story is really interesting, weaving in a lot of history of a couple of the maids with a couple of the families in the story, and makes the backstory of the civil rights struggle that much more impactful because you get a better sense of just how much crap people had to go through for so very long.
And, even better, while you’re rejoicing at the whites in the film getting their comeuppance, the movie, much like the situation in real life, doesn’t end entirely satisfactorily–the lead character loses her job and goes off into an unknown but hopeful future.
To top it all off, it’s a 2+ hour movie that doesn’t feel that long, is very well acted, and entertaining while dealing with an uncomfortable topic. So all of those awards were well deserved.
Four out of Five Stars.