Movie Review: THE HELP and SARAH'S KEY

A century after the Civil War ended, black maids in Jackson, Mississippi were still being treated like slaves.

THE HELP is a well intentioned movie that wants expose the racism of that time through a story about a young white writer who convinces the maids to tell their stories anonymously, so that they can be published in a book.

To me the result is high level soap opera. I liked the acting and the message but overall the film feels like heavy handed manipulation.

The villain of the film is a young Southern belle who has drafted what she calls the "home health sanitation initiative" which requires every white home to have a separate bathroom for the help.
Such blatant racism was commonplace in the South during the early 1960's. And the actors in THE HELP do a good job portraying stereotypical characters from that time.

Rising star Emma Stone is the white girl who wants the world to know what the lives of southern maids are really like.
and Viola Davis as Aibileen steals the show as a hard working maid who mourns for her son who died young.
I don't recommend THE HELP, but I can tell you that most people really like it.
Like THE HELP,  SARAH'S KEY is based on a historical novel.
This one is about the tragic consequences of the time in
French history when 13,000 Jews in Paris were dragged out of their homes and sent to death camps.

The movie focuses on a modern day journalist played by Kristin Scott Thomas and her efforts to find out what happened to one of those condemned families, especially a daughter who may have escaped.
SARAH'S KEY  moves back and forth between the journalist's investigation in 2009 and the perilous life of the young girl in the 1940's.

But instead of manipulating the audience, the filmmaker trusts the quiet power of the story to move us.

SARAH'S KEY is a powerful, well made film. The deep feelings it stirs up may be with you for awhile.