When dealing with racism Hollywood has always had an issue with it. Usually they always show it in some sort of over the top or overly violent way. We’ve seen movies attempt it and fall flat on its face(Crash, don’t start that movie didn’t deserve any awards, especially an Oscar). Here the movie has a very real look at what racism was like in the late fifties and early sixties. The movie isn’t about racism really it’s about love and losing one’s you care about, yet the cloud of racism is there and the mix is what makes this movie a classic.
Emma Stone plays Skeeter Phelan, a young Mississippi socialite, returning home from college. It becomes clear to her that the under current of racism is strong is Jackson and how the maids or “help” are treated. She decides to write a book telling their stories. At first only Aibileen(Viola Davis) a middle-aged woman who recently lost her son. The family she works for has a daughter that she has become very close to. After seeing her friend Minnie(Octavia Spencer) being mistreated she decided to help Skeeter write her book.
The movie’s plot is somewhat basic but there are more than half a dozen touching moments. This movie is about the characters and showing what the South was like during the time period. Viola Davis is amazing here, she basically hits a grand slam every time she is on screen. Her character is quiet, but so lovely that when she is hurting you can’t help but get emotional. Davis will be nominated for best actress come Oscar time, and as of right now I think she should win. Emma Stone isn’t exactly the star here, her character goes missing for several large chunks of the movie. I know she’s focused on in the trailers and posters but this movie isn’t really about Skeeter, but when it is, Stone is perfect. So far she hasn’t really been given a role with this much range. Skeeter’s connection to the woman who raised her is so touching, I won’t spoil anything but there is a scene in the end where Stone shows such range of emotion it’s hard to not be impressed. It also must be noted that Bryce-Dallas Howard plays hands down one of the most racist characters I’ve seen in a while. The role seems basic, but would be very hard to play and pull off as real, she does a good job and you can’t help but hate her character as the film goes on.
I was surprised to be so impressed by this film, it should have been slow, but it’s not. It should have been cliche, but it barely ever touches it. The film is beautiful and filled with such great performances that ignoring the film should be a crime. The movie also does a good job at not being over the top at all. It could have simply pulled the “white people are bad” card and it never does. I suggest those with older kids see this movie. The themes are important and also it’s a good historical lesson about how people were treated in this country. What blows my mind is the 60’s were really not that long ago. Do yourself a favor and see this movie. I can’t put it more simply than that.