The tragic and outrageous tale of American segregation has been told before. But not this way. Based on a book by author Kathryn Stockett, this movie brings viewers into Mississippi homes in the early 1960s to witness, firsthand, how black domestics were treated by the white women who hired them.
The jobs, a step up from slavery, which found them cooking, cleaning a caring for white women's babies, were the best these maids could get. Everyone knew that and behaved accordingly.
It would be easy for this movie to slide into a good-vs-evil scenario, in which black and white are reversed. But the beauty of "The Help" is that it doesn't. Not every white woman is a Dickensian evil-doer. In fact, one of the most delightful characters is a "white trash" woman ostracized by the gals of the ladies' league.
Jessica Chastain, who gained a voluptuous 15 pounds for the role, is an excellent foil for the "refined," better make that snooty, young women. And Emma Stone, the movie's star is as terrific as we've come to expect her.
And then there's Viola Davis It's almost scary how she slunk back into the role of a subservient domestic with virtually no rights under the corrupt Jim Crow system.
Yes, we know about separate and unequal, but the strength of this must-see movie is that it shows us, as if for the first time, how heinous this chapter of American history really was.
If you have a heart, bring tissues. You'll weep for these women and also for our misguided past.