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The Girls Are All Right

November 7, 2010

Tyler Perry gets a lot of shit thrown at him. People say he’s a bad filmmaker. People claim that he is disrespectful to black men and women. People insinuate that he is a closeted gay man. There is a lot of hate. At the same time, for all the hate, Perry’s movies routinely open “beyond expectations” and have helped turn him into a multi-millionaire. For his latest – which is being referred to as a “film,” not a “movie” – he decided to take on the ground-breaking choreo-poem by Ntozake Shange, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Shortening the title to For Colored Girls, Perry pulled together a cast with enough talent to carry four films, let alone one. Immediately after announcing his plans for For Colored Girls, people began asking whether he was up to the job. This, after all, was a high-profile project, beloved by many that had racked up plenty of awards over the years. The cast, too – Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Kimberly Elise, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine, Macy Gray, Tessa Thompson and Perry favorite, Janet Jackson – seemed so top-heavy that people questioned whether Perry’s final product would be able to live up to expectations.

 

And then… and then… Lionsgate decided to push up the release from January to November, smack in the middle of awards season. Did they believe that much in the film? Was it that good? Speculation began. The general consensus was: I’m sure the cast does their jobs, but can Perry do his? Well, it’s out and made more than $20 million during the first weekend. Clearly, plenty of people were interested in finding out what was going on. According to Lionsgate, 81 percent of the audience was African American, and 82 percent was female. Which, when considering that the title of the film says that it’s “for colored girls,” clearly makes sense. Critics have been pretty rough on it, claiming that the film is choppy (it is; extremely so), that the transitions from Perry’s prose to Shange’s verse is jarring (again, very much so), that it is depressing (yes, it is, but this one I blame on Shange; and even though I used “blame,” I believe that it works. The concept of the whole project is to depict the lives of colored girls who have considered suicide). Did I like the movie? Yes. Did the cast do their job(s)? Yes, although Janet Jackson should stick to memories of being Penny from Good Times; she is one-note and annoying throughout. Was it dramatic? Yes, although it feels that Perry thinks drama and melodrama are synonymous. They’re not. That being said, I do like the finished project. Do I wish someone with more finesse as a screenwriter/director (paging Kasi Lemmons!) had had an opportunity to work with this cast? Absolutely. Lemmons’ writing style is very poetic; I feel she would have done an impressive job with these actresses and the performances they give.

 

Phylicia Rashad is phenomenal. Anika Noni Rose is heart-breaking. Kimberly Elise is… Kimberly Elise is wow. I never knew she had that in her and I am proud of her for digging in and giving what she did. I don’t know if Perry pulled that out of her or if she did it on her own, but if FCG is expecting to get any awards recognition, Elise is the best bet (Rashad, an impressive second). And… that’s about it. Go watch it. You should. Even if you’re not a fan of Perry’s; go watch it for the performances of these great actresses. Go watch it to see every man in the cast take his shirt off at least once. Go see it for Shange’s beautiful words. Let me know what you think.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. M. Samuel permalink
    November 8, 2010 12:50 AM

    The box office results may list this film at #3 this weekend and that will not be a loss considering the numbers of black women who show up to put it there.

    I appreciated seeing myself in that movie. I hope other women are saved from those experiences and I hope men can find their way out of the pain.

  2. November 8, 2010 8:31 PM

    I saw this movie and was moved. It was emotional, powerful, disturbing, real. These women were stellar in their performances.

  3. November 8, 2010 10:05 PM

    Just saw the film, and I thought Perry did a good job. He did a good job letting these women tell their stories. Every woman knows someone or has experienced these atrocities themselves.I am so glad this project made it to theatres so women everywhere can learn from these characters.

    I don’t think there’s anyway to tell each story without the film being a bit choppy at times. Most stories where the characters are separate but connected by common threads are choppy until you find those threads that bring the story full circle.

    Not sure how many movies you have seen Kimberly Elise in but she is the perpetual victim. She did in this film what she has done in every movie I have ever seen her in.

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