Release Date: 2011-12-06
Duration: 146 Min
Set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, Eugenia Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone) is writing The Help on the top of a paper. She asks a black woman named Aibeleen (Viola Davis) about her birthplace, and how many white babies shes raised. Skeeter asks what its like to raise a white baby while her own baby was at home being watched by someone else. At this point we begin a flashback in Aibeleen’s head.
Aibeleen (in a voice-over) begins to describe her employers-the Leefolts. They have a 3-year-old daughter named Mae Mobley. The shallow and non-maternal Elizabeth Leefolt does not know how to love her daughter so Aibeleen is the one who basically raises her. Every day Aibeleen tells her: You is kind. You is smart. You is important. Aibeleen gets Mae Mobley to go on the toilet. Elizabeth yanks Mae Mobley off without noticing, because she has a bridge club coming to her house. Aibeleen looks sad for Mae Mobley.
We cut to Hilly Holbrook, (Bryce Dallas Howard) her mother, and her black maid Minny (Octavia Spencer) leaving their house to go to bridge club. Minny is holding a chocolate pie.
We then cut to Skeeter, entering the office of the Jackson Journal for a job interview. She shows a reference from Elaine Stein, which her interviewer points out is a rejection letter. Skeeter points out that Elaine Stein said that Skeeter has promise and will eventually hire her (Elaine Stein works for Harper and Row in New York). Skeeter is hired by the Jackson Journal to write the Miss Myrna housekeeping column.
Skeeter drives into bridge club and hugs her friends Hilly and Elizabeth. They welcome her back – she has just graduated from the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”). Aibeleen fields a call from a Miss Celia Foote (Jessica Chastain) who wants to help with the benefit. Hilly and Elizabeth laugh at her, she is obviously very tacky. Celia asks Aibeleen if she knows any black maid who could help her out. Aibeleen says no. The girls play bridge and Hilly looks uncomfortable. Elizabeth tells her she can go to the bathroom. Hilly refuses to use a toilet that Aibeleen may have sat on. Hilly talks about the bill she is proposing: The Home Health Sanitation Initiative. This is a bill that would require white homes to have an outside toilet for the Negro help. This entire conversation is within earshot of Aibeleen. Skeeter asks Elizabeth if Aibeleen could help her with the Miss Myrna columns. Elizabeth says as long as it doesnt interfere with Aibeleen’s chores. Skeeter asks Aibeleen for help with the column. Aibeleen asks her why Skeeter can’t ask her own maid, Constantine for help. Skeeter looks said as she tells Aibeleen that Constantine quit on them. She then asks Aibeleen if Aibeleen wishes she could change things. Aibeleen looks away.
Skeeter goes home and sees her mother (Alison Janey) trying on a dress. She gets Skeeter to try it on and bugs her about still being single. Skeeter mentions the job she got. Her mother says shell never get married. Her mother asks her if shes had any unnatural thoughts about women and liking women. Skeeter is horrified
Skeeter is at dinner that night and she makes a rude remark about liking girls. Her mother excuses herself from the table because Skeeter has upset her cancerous ulcer. Skeeter runs to a small bench they have out front and remembers when Constantine comforted her for not getting asked to the dance. Skeeter desperately misses Constantine and does not know where she went.
We see Skeeter asking Aibeleen Miss Myrna questions as the sky darkens. We see Elizabeth and her husband arguing over the fact that Elizabeth has spent a lot of money building a Negro bathroom on Hilly’s advice. Elizabeth asks that Skeeter no longer talk to Aibeleen. Skeeter sees the way the Leefolts are treating Aibeleen. She misses Constantine. And in that she has an idea.
Skeeter calls Elaine Stein and tells her that she wants to write a book about the help. Elaine Stein argues that no maid will agree to be interviewed. Skeeter lies and says she already has a maid lined up. Elaine Stein says she will look at whatever Skeeter writes.
At Hilly’s house it is storming like crazy. The power has gone out. Minny looks uncomfortable and Hillys mother says she can use the inside bathroom. Hilly says most certainly not. Minny excuses herself to go make tea. She uses the bathroom and Hilly fires her. Hilly sends her out into the rain. Aibeleen narrates that 18 people lost their lives in the tornado that Hilly sent Minny into. 8 were black and 10 were white. When God sends a tornado he is colorblind.
Skeeter meets Aibeleen at the bus stop. She asks Aibeleen if she would contribute to her book. Aibeleen says she does not want to talk to Skeeter about this stuff anymore. Skeeter gives Aibeleen her number and asks her to reconsider. Aibeleen sees Minny get off the bus with a chocolate pie. Minny refuses to tell her where she is going.
That night Aibeleen gets a phone call from Minny. Minny is sobbing that Hilly fired her and she did a terrible awful. Then we hear Minny’s husband Leroy get home and begin to hit her while Minny screams. Aibeleen looks at Skeeter’s number while she hangs up.
Aibeleen uses the new Negro bathroom at the Leefolts. Elizabeth asks Aibeleen Isnt this better? Aibeleen says yes (not meaning it.) Elizabeth ignores Mae Mobley again.
Aibeleen is at church and hears a sermon about how sometimes courage means speaking out.
Skeeter drives to Aibeleen’s house. Aibeleen rushes her inside making sure no one sees her. Aibeleen is ready to be interviewed by Skeeter. Skeeter asked what changed her mind. Aibeleen answers God and Miss Hilly Holbrook.
We are now back where the movie started. Skeeter asks Aibeleen if the picture on her wall is her son. Aibeleen says ‘yes’ and looks extremely sad.
Minny meanwhile gets a job at Miss Celia Foote’s mansion. Celia is pregnant and does not want her husband to know she is bringing in help. Minny agrees to help Celia without telling Celia’s husband. Minny has to teach Celia how to cook because Celia is terrible at it.
Meanwhile at Hilly’s, there is a new black maid. The maid asks Hilly and her husband if she could borrow because she has twin sons she is sending to college. She is short on one of the tuitions and is going to have to choose which so should go to college and which one should take physical labor. Hilly says she is going to do the Christian thing and refuse her because God does not give charity to those who are well and able.
Hilly and Elizabeth set Skeeter up on a date when they are eating at a restaurant. (Skeeter is the only one to thank the black waiter for their food.)
Skeeter makes her hair look really nice in preparation for the date. When she gets there her date, Stuart is already drunk. She storms out after he jokes that she just got a degree to win a husband.
Minny storms in on Skeeter interviewing Aibeleen. She tells them she thinks they are both crazy. Minny leaves and then comes back, saying she just wanted them to know how dangerous what they are doing is but she wants to help. Skeeter interviews Minny about being an often fired black maid.
Hilly’s new maid is vacuuming when she sees a small ring on the floor. She pockets it.
Minny is teaching Celia how to dress and act. Celia wants to be accepted by the people of the town but she does not know how.
There is another bridge club and Elizabeth’s. Celia shows up in the middle and all the women hide but it is very obvious and Celia knows they are hiding from her.
Skeeter goes to talk to Hilly’s maid and ask her if she will agree to be interviewed. She refuses. Hilly storms in on them and accuses the maid of asking Skeeter for money. Skeeter defends the maid. Hilly sees a pamphlet of laws about blacks and whites in Skeeters bag (Skeeter has been carrying it for research for her book). Hilly warns Skeeter that there are some real racists in their town and Skeeter should be careful.
There is a meeting of a young white womens club that Hilly is president of. She asks Skeeter why her proposed law about blacks and whites needing separate toilets hasn’t gotten into the newsletter yet. Skeeter says she will put it in the next one.
Skeeter sends her interviews with Aibeleen and Minny to Elaine Stein. Elaine says shell need at least 12 interviews if she wants it published. Skeeter knows that all the maids have refused her and she does not know what to do.
Aibeleen is talking to Hilly’s maid at the bus stop when Hilly’s maid is arrested for stealing Hilly’s ring. Now neither of her sons will go to college.
Skeeter is eating at the restaurant when the waiter tells her she needs to go to Aibeleen’s. Skeeter runs over and in Aibeleen’s house are 10-20 maids waiting to share their stories in honor of Hilly’s maid being wrongly thrown in jail (Hilly didn’t even like the ring and it was not valuable.) Skeeter begins to interview.
Minny is in Celia’s room and Celia calls to her to leave from behind the locked bathroom door. Minny breaks into the bathroom and sees Celia on the floor surrounded by blood. She has miscarried. Minny puts her to bed and Celia tells her this is fourth miscarriage. Her husband only knew about the first one. They got married because she was pregnant.
Skeeter puts Hilly’s new law in the newsletter, as well as an advertisement to bring old coats to Hillys house. Skeeter gets an idea to change it from coats to something else.
The next day Elizabeth gets a call and rushes herself, Mae Mobley, and Aibeleen to Hillys house. Hilly is screaming I told her to write coats! Not Commodes! and on Hilly’s lawn there are about 40 toilets. Hilly is in hysterics. Mae Mobley sits on one of the toilets and goes. Elizabeth slaps her till she is sobbing. Later Aibeleen holds her and whispers, You is kind. You is smart. You is important.
Stuart goes to Skeeter’s house and apologizes to her for his behavior. They begin to date and actually enjoy each others company.
Minny is walking to Celia’s when her husband pulls up. Minny begins to run, and Celia’s husband says not to worry, he’s known about her for a long time. He wishes the women in town would accept Celia. He thanks Minny for being there for Celia and says he knows about the three lost babies.
Celia continues to wonder why no one will accept her. She figures it was because she got pregnant right after Hilly broke up with Johnny, who was Celia’s baby daddy. Celia assumes that Hilly thinks she was cheating with Johnny but really she wasn’t. Celia decides to prove her innocence to Hilly at the banquet that is coming up.
Skeeter has finished her book. Aibeleen and Minny are worried that people will figure out that it is Jackson. Minny says she has some insurance in the form of her terrible awful. If they put the terrible awful in the book than they will be protected from people realizing that it is Jackson.
Minny begins her terrible awful. She brought the chocolate pie to Hilly on the day that Aibeleen saw her. Minny acts like the pie is a peace offering. Hilly eats two slices and Hilly’s mother wants a slice. Minny says no and Hilly asks why her mother can’t have a slice. Minny replies “Eat my shit!” Hilly says “excuse me?” and Minny says “you just ate my shit.” Minny baked her shit into the pie and Hilly had two slices. Hilly’s mother laughs and laughs.
Minny says if they put that in the book Hilly will make sure no one knows it was actually her. “Who ate Minny’s shit”. Skeeter and Aibeleen agree.
It is the night of the benefit. Celia is there looking trashy as anything. She gets very drunk. Hilly is leading the event. The auction begins and Hilly wins Minny’s chocolate pie. She looks scandalized. Celia congratulates her and Hilly screams at her for entering Hilly’s name for the pie. Celia accidently rips Hillys dress. Hilly tells Celia she will never be accepted. Celia flees and throws up on her way out. On Hilly’s way out her mother says she entered for her to win the pie because she will never forget the look on Hilly’s face when she realized she was eating Minny’s shit.
The next day Minny tells Celia her terrible awful to make her feel better. This also helps Celia realize why Hilly was mad at her at the banquet; Hilly thought Celia had put her name in.
Skeeter is nearly finished her book. She needs one more story: her own. Skeeter goes to her mother and insists on knowing where Constantine went. Skeeters mother tells her that she had just been honored by the DAR. Constantines daughter Rachel stormed in and the DAR ladies insisted she throw both Rachel and Constantine out. The next day Skeeter’s mother tried to get Constantine back but she had already moved to Chicago. Constantine died two weeks later. Skeeter accuses her mother of breaking Constantine’s heart.
Skeeter gets her book published: only a few copies. Within a few days it is a sensation in Jackson, MS. Stuart breaks up with Skeeter when he finds out it was her who wrote the book. Everyone wants to know: is this place Jackson or not? Hilly is adamant that it is not (she can’t let anyone find out about the pie.)
Celia sends Hilly a check for the dress, making it out to Two Slice Hilly. Hilly screams and tears it into pieces.
Minny goes to Celia’s to find a delicious meal waiting for her. Celia cooked it all herself. Celia and her husband Johnny say that Minny will always have a job with them. From that meal Minny got the strength to leave her abusive husband.
Minny and Aibeleen go to church where the entire congregation has signed copies of The Help for Aibeleen and Skeeter.
Aibeleen and Minny present Skeeter with her copy. Skeeter mentions she got a job in New York but she can’t take it, not with all the drama she started with writing The Help. Aibeleen and Minny insist she go.
Hilly is furious at Skeeter and she storms over to Skeeter’s house in a drunken fury, as she has figured out that Skeeter is the author. She threatens to tell Skeeter’s mother and Skeeter’s mother kicks Hilly off her property after insulting her. Skeeter’s mother says Skeeter should take the job in New York. Skeeter does.
Aibeleen goes to Elizabeth’s where Hilly and Elizabeth are waiting. Hilly insists Elizabeth fire Aibeleen (which Elizabeth does not want to do) for stealing silver (which Aibeleen did not do.) Hilly wants to report Aibeleen to the police and Aibeleen says if that happens she will tell everyone Hilly’s secret. Hilly is trapped. Elizabeth fires Aibeleen and Aibeleen leaves, knowing this was her last job. Before she goes she tells Mae Mobley “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Aibeleen realizes that now se can write about how she has been treated.
She has a future.
Bryce Dallas Howard
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