The South, early 1960s. A time when everything was separate and still far from equal. The Help is about a young, female, white, aspiring writer who sees the unfairness of the way African-American maids/nannies are being treated by their rich, socialite, white woman housewives and decides to do something about it. Skeeter played by Emma Stone does this by wanting to write a book from the point of view of these hard working women. She immediately goes to Aibileen played by nominee Viola Davis; at first she wants nothing to do with the idea for fear that it would get her into trouble but is persuaded by the memory of her dead son to tell a story about all the white children she has “raised”. They are soon joined by Minny played by fellow nominee Octavia Spencer, a maid who doesn’t always do what she is told and eventually, with the help of all the maids in their town, they have a full 200 paged book of crazy and unknown stories to tell the whole country.
The story of The Help itself isn’t all that great or even unique but the performance of each actor is right on and superb. I’ve already said what I could about Emma Stone so let me start this character study with Aibileen. Aibi, as she is known by the little girl she takes care of, really cares about the kids that are put into her watch, they become like her own children whether it is concern over the girl sleeping in a dirty diaper all night or telling her everyday that she is smart and important. Aibileen can ONLY HOPE that one day when the girl is all grown up that she will be a better person then her parents. Minny on the other hand is the “sassy” one who won’t take garbage from anyone including her “boss” Hilly played by Bryce Dallas Howard, an evil woman who even puts her own mother into a nursing home when she joins Minny’s side and laughs with her at Hilly’s expense when Minny finds a way to get revenge. Although Hilly tells everyone not to hire Minny she is still able to find a job for a woman who is untouched by a socialite upbringing named Celia played by nominee Jessica Chastain. She is a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks and may have gotten married because she got pregnant but wants to keep her husband happy so she hires Minny to cook, soon they realize the can help and need each other.
This movie at its core is about the characters and the characters are the main reason to see The Help.