Racism isn't gone, folks. We aren't living in the post-racism age despite the fact that Tracy Morgan joking about it is frickin' hilarious.
Films like these give us a chance to look back onto a past that, frankly, isn't something to proud of. It starts a bit slow but soon hits its stride. It is a movie that, despite covering such a volatile issue, never truly treads into dangerous territory.Ultimately we get the message that racism is, indeed, vile but not all the white folk are bad!
Skeeter (Emma Stone) is a recent graduate of Ole Miss and is returning to her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. Stone is the star of the show with her comedic timing and ability to offer depth at a moment's notice. She's starting to develop into a fine actress there is no doubt but ultimately the film is stolen away by Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer).
Clark has been raising white children most of her life and she genuinely loves each and everyone who has been in her charge. Those children grow up to then be her new boss and the cycle begins anew. Minny works as a maid and might just be the best cook in all of Jackson. She also has the misfortune of working for Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) and soon has to find a new job. Celia Foote, a rather unsophisticated lady married to a well-off businessman gives her a second chance. She is uneducated in the domestic ways and needs Minny to show her the ropes.
Hilly is a foul woman who is more concerned with her social status than being a decent human being and, well, you can imagine that she plays the perfect villain to the downtrodden maids. Skeeter, meanwhile, starts a new project: a book. It shall contain the collected stories of the maids of Jackson. There is resistance, of course, to this at first but soon they arrive in droves to tell Skeeter of the awful treatment they receive from their employers.
The original book has a huge number of fans and I imagine that most will find the movie to be quite good. Whether you've read the book or not really doesn't matter. You're still getting a well-acted drama that ends up being more about the maids then the journey of Skeeter to being a successful author.
My only complaint with the film overall is that it could have had more edge to it. It, ultimately, is a fable that is meant for us to feel good yet never really make us feel the pain that these women felt. My white guilt kicked in a lot and that maybe colored some of my opinion, but it doesn't take away from the monstrous performance of Viola Davis as Aibileen or Minny Davis' comedic prowess. They were definitely the best part of the movie and took what should have been a big step forward for Emma Stone and made it their own. Her time will come, for sure, but I was glad to see these two great actresses get a chance to shine as they did.
That complaint aside the film is well acted, framed nicely and gives us a window back in a time that most of us would choose to forget rather than look back upon. It is important, however, for us to see things of this nature even if it is within the guise of fiction.
An interesting note about it is that more than four weeks in to it's theatrical run its making even more money than before. Word of mouth is still a strong advertising engine eh?