The Help

            The Help is a solid piece of filmmaking; a good story told well. In this case it was a story that had already brought the book by Kathryn Stockett to the #1 spot on the New York Times best seller list. The film adapted and directed by Tate Taylor is a vivid and warmly played interpretation of this story, possible only thanks to the ensemble of talented actors. Bound to be an Oscar contender, The Help is also a film of wonderful entertainment value. Even dealing with a difficult subject matter, there is plenty of inspirational hope and humor to match the darker moments.

            The Help takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s, during a time where it was still dangerous to be black. Segregation was still enforced, and the treatment of black help is brutal and unfair. Although it is still illegal to write about equality for black people in Mississippi, one inexperienced journalist (Emma Stone) decides to take the risk and write a book with stories from the black help in Jackson. The first maid willing to take this risk (Viola Davis) soon brings more along to tell their stories. As the rest of the country seems to be changing with Mississippi still in the dark ages of segregation, these women were risking far more than reputation to tell their stories.

            It is impossible to single out anyone within this rich cast, though Davis certainly has the ability to carry the film with less dialogue spoken than most of the people surrounding her. Even her best friend (Octavia Spencer), who is also a maid, is more outspoken and lively. Also starring Bryce Dallas Howard in a despicable villain role and several other great actors in bit parts, The Help is a performance piece thanks to the actors involved.

            The Blu-ray combo pack includes a DVD version as well. The special features on the DVD include deleted scenes and a music video by Mary J. Blige. The Blu-ray has these features as well as additional deleted scenes and a making-of featurette, but the highlight is a featurette tribute to the real maids of Mississippi.

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