tada! a 5-star movie at last :)
an aspiring journalist, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (Emma Stone) returned back town after graduating from University of Missisippi to find that her beloved Bibik, Constantine (Cicely Tyson) was gone. Her mom, Charlotte Phelan (Allison Janney) simply said that Constantine had quit and moved to stay with her daughter, Rachel at Chicago.
During her conversation with Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) who is her best friend, Elizabeth(Ahna O'Reilly)'s Bibik, Skeeter managed to sniff out that the circumstances of Constantine quitting was rather fishy. and her initial conversation with Aibileen had exposed that something was not right with the Town's treatment of their colored maids.
the Town during Skeeter's absence had made Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) somehow the ringleader of the young mothers, snooty and self-important, with Hilly the worst of them all. she was extremely prejudiced and maltreated her Help, Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer) to the extreme of insisting that the Help of her friends to use different toilet in fear of contracting the diseases of the colored people.
Skeeter was rather more respectful of the maids as she was lovingly raised by Constantine. upon hearing Hilly's absurd and often cruel treatment of the maid, and noticing Aibileen's openness to share her story without much persuasion, Skeeter roped her into making a book titled "the Help", an honest recount of the maids' experiences working for the White folk. little did they knew, though initially the other maids were reluctant to share the good and the bad account of their lives, soon after there was killing of a colored man who was vocal against the injustice dished out to the colored people and the brutal arrest of Hilly's latest maid (for attempting to pawn one of Hilly's essentially worthless rings to pay for her twins' college tuition, after Hilly had refused to give her a loan), everybody came forward with their stories.
the first to came after Aibileen was Minny. She was Aibileen's best friend and very defiant towards Hilly's cruel oppression. during a violent tornado rage, Minny had to take a leak in Hilly's bathroom instead of going out to her own toilet. this sparked Hilly's wrath and scorn that she poisoned other women in the Town to not take Minny on as a maid by accusing Minny of thievery.
this cost Minny her meagre income and she had to suffer beatings from her husband and her eldest daughter had to quit school and became a maid herself. luckily, Minny was hired by Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain) who was outcasted as White Trash by Hilly and her gang just for being an outsider AND marrying Hilly's ex boy friend, Johnny (Mike Vogel). Celia was a very sweet lady and deeply grateful for Minny's help at her house unbeknownst to her rich husband's knowledge.
after collecting all the maids' stories, it's time for Skeeter to find out the truth about Constantine. in a moment of truth, Charlotte finally explained that though she was fond of Constantine, she had to fire her in order to save face during a reception. Afterwards feeling guilty about it, Charlotte sends Skeeter's brother to bring Constantine home from Chicago, but he discovered that she had died not long after leaving Jackson.
soon the book titled "the Help" was later on published by Miss Stein (Mary Steenburgen) and became an instant hit though the names and the Jackson town name were changed. only Hilly (and all the maids plus Skeeter) knew for sure of the truth that the book was based on the recounts of Jackson's maids. it's due to a chapter titled "Terrible Awful" based on Minny's experience. and for that, Hilly's bent on revenge in petty ways. it also cost Skeeter her first real romance with Stuart (Chris Lowell) who was related to Hilly by marriage. but it was worth it. Skeeter was offered a job in New York and was urged by the maids to go, after all, she has burnt all the bridges that were left at Jackson.
Later on, Hilly hatched a plan to get rid of Aibileen as Elizabeth's help, by falsely accusing her of stealing silver while arranging it for meetings. As Aibileen tried to convince Hilly and Elizabeth of her innocence, Elizabeth's daughter, Mae Mobley, arrived and jumped on top of her, watching Aibileen being fired. Aibileen denounced Hilly as a godless woman and told her that she will never have peace if she continued her vindictive ways and left her in limbo. Elizabeth was forced to accept the unacceptable firing of Aibileen, and Mae Mobley cried by the window shouting for Aibileen, as the Help leaves to start her own life.
this movie is a touching story, empowering and simply about the miserable fate that the Helps had to endure during the apartheid in Mississippi. i can relate to Skeeter who was really close to her Bibik and thus turned out to be more understanding of the Maids. her being an old maid had also struck a resonant cord as someone who was committed to her education and career instead of following Hilly's footsteps.
Aibileen was the pillar of this story. it started with her son's mindless death upon the carelessness of his White employer. Treelore had a bright future ahead of him, being graduated and all, but alas, he was involved in an accident at his workplace and his employer abandoned him at the Black People's hospital to die. it broke Aibileen's heart and caused her to feel acceptance of fate was too much to swallow. nonetheless she lovingly raised 17 babies in her tenure as a lowly paid Help. watching this movie and witnessing her pain, i cried. she deserved to get her Oscar but somehow the Oscar people don't think so. but Victoria Spencer's portrayal of sassy-mouth Minny did get numerous accolades. who can forget her account of Terrible Awful, kan?
as for Hilly, well, everyone loved to hate her. her mean spite underneath all the sweetness that won't melt butter was spot on. yup, i hate her more, and more after Twilight and Eclipse.
Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote was endearing. she was the complete opposite of Hilly. i was sympathetic when she kept losing her babies. and the way she had to endure Hilly's open disdain and ridicule.. no wonder JC also got nominated for Supporting Actress for the Oscar. and only losing to VS who was superb in this movie, well, that's ok.
all in all, i really love this movie and wouldn't mind putting it on rewind. the fact that it lost to "the Artist" was kinda a remise of them Oscar people. i surely must see the latter movie to find out what is special about the movie. but then Oscar's winners usually boggle the mind... :sigh:
oh ya, i really love the ending. it was poignant and hopeful...