In the Dark

Carrying the Burden

The Help
Produced by Dreamworks Pictures
Directed and written by Tate Taylor from Kathryn Stockett’s novel
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios

The Guard
Produced by Reprisal Films
Directed and written by John McDonagh
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics

I went to see The Help fully expecting it would be a travesty of race relations in the 1960’s South.  I’m sorry to report my expectations were dashed.  As undeniably mush-headed as it often is, The Help rises above its simpleminded liberal impulse by virtue of its black actresses, Viola Davis and Olivia Spencer, who somehow contrived to believe the script director Tate Taylor crafted from Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same title.  At times their performances almost make you believe, too.

Here’s the premise.  Spunky Skeeter Phelan (played by spunky Emma Stone) has recently graduated from Ole Miss and come back to her home in Jackson, Mississippi.  She has no sooner unpacked than she’s out interviewing the black maids in town so she can write up their lives and score a bestseller.  As events unfold, she discovers there’s more to her subject than she had supposed.  Once she wins the trust of two disgruntled maids, Aibileen (Davis) and Minny (Spencer), they begin to vent—and what an ill wind...

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