The Help

Two of my three moms worked in some capacity as "the help," so I've not looked forward to seeing Tate Taylor's movie. Films about privileged tyrants -- the suburban variety -- infuriate me, and I too frequently imagine the cruelties on the screen being visited upon those dear women, and their sisters. I wonder what might they have endured so that they could feed their own families, keep a home and, perhaps, put away enough money for the future. A lot of what Taylor has put on the screen -- particularly the maids' coddling of their employers' children -- made me terribly uncomfortable. While presenting these women's genuine affection for their charges and the grace with which they lived their lives, these scenes also showed how insidious was the world in which they were trapped, as one character described it, where they reared their own tormentors. A major plot element, the maid Minny's revenge, though wonderfully cathartic for the audience, seemed ultimately more demeaning of Minny than her victimizer. Still, I was deeply moved by many, many scenes in the film, and thought individual performances -- principally Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain and Bryce Dallas Howard -- were truly outstanding.

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