Review by Anthony Pearson posted on January 30th, 2012
The movie is set in the early 1960’s at the zenith of the American Civil Rights Movement and in one of the hotbeds of racial segregation at that time, Jackson Mississippi. Skeeter Philan (Emma Stone) is a young female writer, disenchanted and saddened by the racist company she keeps, she pitches an idea to write a book from the perspective of the black help workers in her community. The pitch earns her a trial commission and she sets about writing her book with the assistance of some of the helpers, primarily housemaids Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer). But the task is not without it’s dangers as Jackson is very much alive with the likes of the KKK and other violent racists. Were they to be discovered, their personal safety and their homes are just as much at risk as their jobs and livelihoods.
I regard this film on the same level as The Shawshank Redemption and director Tate Taylor should be pleased with what will no doubt be regarded as his seminal work. You will find yourself quickly attached to the characters and their plight. The film boasts a large principally female cast and there are some amazing performances here most notably from Viola Davis. Oscar winning? Yes. You will wince with her as she experiences pangs of emotional pain and wretchedness. Octavia Spencer’s character is beautifully complex despite the wysiwyg front. I really liked Emma Stone’s feisty performance too. There was also enjoyable appearances from Sissy Spacek, Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard.