Friday, September 2, 2011

Maids In America - The Help

The Help is already a big success. Having blitzed the US box office, it looks like making more money than the Meryl Streep hit Julie & Julia.

Much of the magic has been worked by its pedigree. It's an adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's bestseller about a group of black maids working in the households of Mississippi's middle class in 1963, one of the most volatile years of the civil rights movement - although the clamour and ferocity of the movement's battles with southern racism is heard only as distant thunder. Here, the front line is in the kitchen, the nursery - and the bathroom. Especially the bathroom.

The trouble begins when Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard), the bossiest and most brittle of Jackson, Mississippi's, fashionable young matrons, decides her black maid is to have a toilet of her own - or rather, an outhouse - so as to protect the family from any exotic diseases she may be carrying. And since Hilly is a trendsetter, the outhouse becomes a neighbourhood feature.

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