In 1963, graduate Emma Stone returns to her home town in Mississippi, but is ill at ease with the racism there.

Ambitious to become a writer, Stone resolves to write a book that will allow the black maids to give voice to their experiences.

This rousing Hollywood drama, based on the 2009 bestseller by Kathryn Stockett, takes its emotionally charged subject and turns it into an uplifting, crowd-pleasing fable. With a superb ensemble cast, writer-director Tate Taylor (a childhood friend of the author) adroitly pushes the audience’s buttons to elicit laughter and tears.

Jessica Chastain’s white-trash social outcast could easily have been a one-note caricature, but she gives her character pathos and sincerity. Even the film’s most hateful, viciously racist character, Bryce Dallas Howard’s socialite, is allowed a vulnerable humanity. But it’s stoic, long-suffering Viola Davis and feisty, outspoken Octavia Spencer who give the story its heart.

It’s also Spencer who provides the movie’s funniest moments, especially when she gets her own back on former employer Howard with an audacious reprisal that proves revenge is indeed a dish best served cold.

This film starts at 12.20am on BBC2 Scotland.