1955 in Montgomery Alabama, Odessa Cotter a black maid to a wealthy white family with Miriam Thompson must decide what they are going to do in response to the bus boycott led by Martin Luther King.
The bus boycott was was black people were forced to only sit at the back of the buses and this was something that needed to be changed in an attempt to move towards equality. Odessa enjoys her work for the Thompson’s and is treated well, she feels it is her duty to walk to work even if that means she is exhausted and sometimes late. Miriam is very compassionate about the situation and cares for Odessa, she even begins driving her too and from the house. Although her husband Norman is not best pleased when he finds out about this.
His brother Tunker is quite frankly a horrible man and part of the problem in the town, he believes he is better than the black people and that they should not be taking a stand. One of those characters that just makes you feel uneasy each and every time he is on screen. We are told the story through Mary Catherine who had a very good relationship with Odessa and how she felt about everything that was going on.
I always find the films on racial segregation and the treatment of black people very difficult to watch, but also fully understand that they highlight a horrible past and history that we must not forget as it manages to show just how cruel some people were to others. One of the most optimistic moments to come from the truly horrific situation was the white people who were actually then helping to drive the black women to and from their jobs, showing that they understood at least a little bit what they were fighting for. Although with that it also made me wonder how if they hated them so much why they were happy for them to be working as maids and nanny’s within their homes?
The final scene is utterly heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once, that is the sign of very powerful performances in order to create that kind of amazing moment. Especially when Miriam and Mary Catherine find themselves in the thick of a potential kick off, highlighting everything that was wrong with middle aged white men! I would have liked to have seen more of Odessa’s family and even the story to be told from a black perspective rather than white, however I still think it puts across the many messages in a very good way.
Even though I have seen quite a lot of Whoopi Goldberg films I still think of her comedic performances more than anything, it is well worth remembering just how good of an actress she is, given the opportunity to showcase just how she can be in this type of film is amazing, especially given this is a few years after The Color Purple. She is utterly fantastic in the film considering that she does not really say a massive amount, really showing her physical approach to the performance and having to really go for it in that sense. Sissy Spacek is also fantastic and they work so very well in the scenes together and apart that was something that really pushes the film forward even more. Given that her character is shown to have a big conflict between wanting to do the right thing and her husband.