Based on the best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett, this adaptation by screenwriter/director Tate Taylor is at first a saddening condemnation of who we once were, as it provides a sobering counterbalance to our Mad Men feel-good nostalgia for the times. By the end, though, the film replaces that shame with an uplifting dignity, demonstrated in the courage that ordinary people summoned to survive Jim Crow laws and make a civil-rights fight to end them. The story is that of Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis, above right) and the other black maids of Jackson, Mississippi, as they build a relationship with Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone, left), a young white woman who gathers their perspectives into a book about their lives cooking, cleaning, and raising children for their usually ungrateful and occasionally vicious employers. The movie is full of bright, airy images, with a wide range of colors from pastel pinks of the era to rich primaries of the older generation’s jungle-red lipstick. Skin tones are natural, and white collars are freshly laundered bright. There’s enough detail to allow you to read license plates and count the freckles on Skeeter’s face. The clear, open, and crisp soundtrack uses the surround channels to create cicada-filled atmospherics and deliver 5.1 mixes of Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, and Bob Dylan.
Video: 1080p, 1.85:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: making-of featurette; “In Their Own Words: A Tribute to the Maids of Mississippi”; eight deleted scenes; music video of “The Living Proof” by Mary J. Blige.
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