Viewed – 18 January 2014 Netflix
Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, this drama follows the story of Skeeter (Emma Stone) a young woman in a high society family who’s observations of the mistreatment of hired, African-American ‘help’ leads her to write a book detailing interviews by the various maids and giving a voice to their people. Such an idea during a racially tense time in American history was controversial but as the movie progresses, Skeeter manages to persuade two maids to get involved.
Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett and with a strong central performance by Stone, one of my favourites – this was a lengthy but absorbing tale. The thought-provoking subject really drew me in, and Viola Davis as the narrating Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minnie are both excellent, as is a sneering, spiteful Bryce Dallas Howard. This is a movie about performances and getting one up on stuck up, narrow minded snobs – which made for quite a few feel good moments.
At times little details like one maid’s abuse by her husband is only hinted at and sometimes the dialogue and events were a touch vague, not helped by the thick southern dialects. Yet the cinematography is very attractive with the setting filmed beautifully … wow those houses! Acclaimed at time of release and having won several awards (most notably Octavia Spencer’s deserved Oscar) this was an enjoyable and educational experience that’s an easy recommendation.
Verdict: 4 /5