The Help India, USA 2011 – 146min.
1960: A young white Mississippi woman decides to write about what it's like to be a black maid in the South.
When Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone) comes home from college to find the family maid has left, she decides to interview the black women in service around town and find out what it's like to be "the help" in the Deep South. Easier said than done, as the civil rights movement is getting more dangerous by the day, her former classmates are bred-in-the-bone society racists and the black women who serve them could be killed if they talk openly about what goes on in the homes they work in.
A rare occurrence: a movie that is better than its source material. In this case the tepid novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett, which implied that it takes a white woman to save "helpless" Blacks. Director Tate Taylor gives much more of the plot's power to the Black characters, resulting in a more in-depth and moving story with fabulous performances by Viola Davis as the first maid Skeeter approaches, and the divine Octavia Spencer as a woman forced by her subservient position to keep a lid on her finely tuned wit. Also worth their salaries are Sissy Spacek and Allison Janney as two very different steel magnolias who learn to feel compassion for the women who have been a part of their families in all but name.