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Director: Tate Taylor
Since her breakthrough film last summer when she played the leading role in the surprisingly witty “Easy A,” Emma Stone has quickly cemented herself as one of the most bankable female stars in Hollywood. It is not difficult to see why following her role as journalist Eugenia Pheelan – or as she is more affectionately known, Skeeter – in the film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel, “The Help.”
Based in the United States during the Civil Rights era of the early 1960s, “The Help” takes place in Jackson, Mississippi where African Americans continue to be treated as second class citizens, with the majority of the black female population working as maids to the wealthy white families from ‘across the tracks.’ Having returned to Jackson as a liberated journalist following her studies at the University of Mississippi, Skeeter sets about to rustle more than a few feathers when she decides to write a book, named “The Help,” the premise of which is to record the stories of the maids – an idea never before considered.
Beginning with two maids, Aibeleen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer), Skeeter crosses lines – both literally and figuratively – never before crossed as she encourages women to tell their stories in a time where the opinion of maids – or in fact African American people in society as a whole – is considered to be of little relevance.
In a summer that has seen the rise of female heroines through films such as “Sucker Punch” and “Bridesmaids,” “The Help” comes out on the top with the three heroines all shown to be compassionate, humorous and strong-minded individuals by three equally impressive performances from Stone, Davis and Spencer.
But while the comedic edge to this film is ultimately what makes it so compelling, it could also perhaps be accused of taking away some of the seriousness of the issues at hand with “The Help” painting a somewhat rosy picture of the true race relations issues at hand.