Hilly Holbrook: Have you lost your mind?
Minny Jackson: No ma’am. But you are about to.
I was lucky enough to be invited by Disney to attend an advanced screening of the Dreamworks film, The Help, held at the very chic Covent Garden Hotel.
I haven’t read the book but have only heard positive reviews about it and after seeing the trailer a few weeks ago, I was really looking forward to seeing it.
The story is fundamentally about sisterhood. Female friendship that transcends race and rank.
The Help is set in Jackson, Mississipi during the 1960’s and focuses on Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer) – two black maids that are employed by white families to look after their houses and raise their children. They are encouraged by Skeeter (Emma Stone), a young white girl that doesn’t hold the same views as her peers – an aspiring writer who wants more from life than marriage – to write their stories about their lives in Jackson. This, of course, creates conflict amongst their community, challenges long held beliefs about black people being treated differently to white people and even though those in question aren’t named, they know who they are.
I don’t know who impressed me more. Kathryn Stockett for writing the story in the first place, Tate Taylor for directing it so beautifully or any one of the actors that took part. They were all outstanding. Understated yet passionate, evoking deep emotion by mere facial expressions.
The film was hard to watch in places, not just because I’ve been in a mixed race relationship for the past nine years, but because everyone should feel slightly uncomfortable watching it. The film represents our history, for better or worse, but also shows us how far we’ve come since then.
There were real laugh out loud moments during the film but also plenty of times I was glad I was wearing waterproof mascara. I think I may have properly sobbed at one point, but thankfully, I wasn’t the only one.
The Help was rejected by nearly sixty publishers before it was finally accepted and no, it may not give enough time, attention or depth to the story of the Civil Rights movement … BUT …. it does address racism and we should be glad it does. It can be used as a vehicle to open up dialogue about a subject very close to my heart so go see the film, read the book or do both.
I don’t want to give too much about the story away because I would implore everyone to watch it.
I don’t say this lightly, but The Help truly is an exceptional film.