THE HELP directed by Tate Taylor, written by Taylor from the novel by Kathryn Stockett, with Viola Davis, Emma Stone and Allison Janney. 137 minutes. A Disney release. Now playing. See listing Rating: NNN
This adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's mega-selling novel - still perched atop the New York Times bestseller list two years after its release - is anchored by another powerful performance by Viola Davis (Doubt).
As Aibileen, one of the maids in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who finds her personal power when she agrees to share her story with upstart journalist Skeeter (Emma Stone), Davis conveys a steely strength and dignity. Octavia Spencer also shines as another house servant who tells all.
Stone proves she can handle drama, and Allison Janney as her cancer-ridden, deeply conflicted mother finds just the right tone. But the Junior League matrons exploiting the help - especially Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly - play their parts to stereotypically shrieking heights.
Racism and entitlement come across as much more malevolent when they have a quieter quality.