Writer-director Tate Taylor ostensibly wants each of these stories to illuminate a different shade of a larger, more significant patchwork narrative. But none of these threads resound as deeply as Aibileen’s and those of the other maids. There is a deeply moving scene late in the film that illustrates the film’s misguided focus and failed potential. After struggling to find maids to go on record for the book, Stone’s character walks into Aibeleen’s house and finds it full of women wanting tell their stories. It has a raw power that resonates within the context of the previous scenes and also as a broader statement of courage. But the moment is fleeting, since the movie then depicts the telling of the stories in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it montage, presumably in effort to push on to resolutions for the other plotlines.
I initially had reservations toward The Help taking a painful story and turning into inspirational fluff. But come to think of it, I would have settled for inspirational fluff if it were actually about Aibileen. Alas, merely telling us that certain stories need to be told is not enough. You have to tell the story. Only then can we know what it feels like to be Aibeleen or any other of the maids whose stories are glossed over by The Help. (Tate Taylor, 2011) *½