Monday, 12 March 2012

The Help

By Tate Taylor.

Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett.

This screenplay has been on my to read list for a few months and caught my eye after seeing its trailer. It looked like an interesting and moving story of a black maid who spent her life serving others. To this: I wondered what hardships she must have faced and how did she get through it. So with interest and hopeful expectations. Did it deliver? The verdict is: Yes and no. Well, it depends...

The story takes place in South America in Jackson, Mississippi during the civil rights movement of the sixties and centres on black maid, Aibileen, in her fifties, as her dutiful and oppressed routine is disturbed when an aspiring author wants to enlist her to expose the hardships local maids face at the hands of their white employers. Aibileen is coy on stirring up trouble and doesn't want to rock the boat, although, raw feelings within her find the offer tempting.

The screenplay was enjoyable, often dramatic, good-humoured and touching. We warm to Aibileen and her story, being a sympathetic and tragic character: good natured, loving and emotionally troubled. The white families and employers exhibited an interesting dynamic at times and go some way to paint the picture of the oppressors, who are, ordinary people with troubles but of a privileged and luxurious kind in comparison. When introduced, the other black maids were heartfelt, compelling and a pleasure to journey with. The plot moves fairly quickly and dialogue does its job: evoking emotion, character, back story and the period.

Overall, it is a typical feel good story and one that you can enjoy, however, suffers from the Hollywood touch and disappoints somewhat in terms of realism and truth.

The story is about finding strength in bleak times and taking action against adversity. It's about the pursuit of equality and standing up in a minority. Weapon of choice: the written word. 

Did you enjoy the screenplay? Have any praise or disappointments to share? Technical observations? 

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