At first doubts were cast over The Help as it seemed that it, like many others before it, would be centered on a hurriedly made screenplay. More recent book adaptations, such as One Day, are rushed into production which makes the films suffer as they fail to live up to the reputation of the novel. The screenplay for The Help was not rushed; in fact the timing couldn’t have been better. The script was finished around the same time as the book, because the rights to adapt the novel were sold to little known director, and close friend of the author, Tate Taylor back in 2008.
The Help follows Skeeter (Emma Stone) an aspiring writer who, having returned to her hometown Jackson, Mississippi, attempts to impress a possible employer by writing a book from the point of view of the African-American maids. She approaches her best friend’s housekeeper Aibileen (Viola Davis) to express her opinion on the white family she works for and the hardships these women endure on a daily basis. The threat of getting caught looms over the pair as they continue their collaboration and attempt to attract more women to come forward with their stories.
Taylor’s connection with the original author is instantly noticed and his direction and writing replicates the depth and realism of a novel by offering glimpses into the lives of each of his characters. From the struggling mother daughter relationships to domestic violence each character’s individual narrative is more interesting than the last. The performances support Taylor’s script with Emma Stone reinforcing her identity as one of the most exciting new faces working in film and Viola Davis who captures perfectly the emotions of every scene. Each aspect of this film woks and Tate Taylor captures everything that made the original novel popular.