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Julian’s Rating: 4.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.2/10
(2 reviews total)
The basis for Tyler Perry’s latest film, For Colored Girls, is the famous Tony Award-winning stage play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf penned by Ntozake Shange in the 1970s. The play is a series of soliloquies delivered by eight different women, each of whom represents a different color.
This controversial film adaptation sees the comedy director creating a story that mildly dances around such soliloquies. His passionate attempt to turn this seminal work into a motion picture is both admirable and ambitious but not very successful.
Both the introduction and resolution of the film are horrifically clichéd and teeter on the edge of being laughable. Additionally, the film as a whole runs into a huge issue with fluidity: primary characters weave in and out of the main context of the story, and the film is uneven and poorly paced. The inclusion of soliloquies from the stage play doesn’t help, since such dialogue feels drastically out of place, especially in a conversational tone.
The one aspect in which “Girls” doesn’t falter is just that — the girls in the film. Character actress Loretta Devine finally gets to show off her true acting talents, jumping back and forth between purposely laughable naiveties and gripping dramatics. Kimberly Elise expertly interprets a one-note character, giving her an emotional resolve and almost making one forget how poorly written the character is. Veteran Whoopi Goldberg makes for a grand and haunting return to the silver screen as a lunatic member of a cult and gives what may be one of her greatest screen performances.
Janet Jackson’s firm and egotistical in-charge performance is a far cry from her softer work in the “Why Did I Get Married?” films, proving herself as an actress with range, versatility, and depth. Thandie Newton goes above and beyond in her portrayal of a casual lover, though going above and beyond occasionally results in obvious histrionics. Though fairly inexperienced, Tessa Thompson gives a performance that promises for a bright future in acting, despite a seemingly unbalanced delivery of her soliloquy towards the beginning of the film. The always dependable Kerry Washington is affecting as a disturbed social worker. Macy Gray gives a short yet disturbing and substantial performance as an underground abortionist.
The real standouts here, though, are Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni Rose. Since they have performed on both stage and screen, it should make sense that their handlings of the soliloquies are accessible and not as puzzling as those given by their co-stars. Furthermore, Rashad subtly provides a voice of reason and comfort amongst the chaos, while Rose perfectly navigates through the most disturbing scene in the film.
The New Yorker hailed Shange’s play as “encompassing… every feeling and experience a woman has ever had.” While Perry’s interpretation touches greatly on human emotion, as this is something of a passion project for him, For Colored Girls doesn’t quite rise to the level of the play that served as its inspiration. Rather, his manipulation of such poignant prose proves his lack of experience in wholly dramatic storytelling.
As unfortunate as it may be, a great set of performances does not necessarily make for a good film and certainly does not put a shade over poor execution; such is the case with For Colored Girls.
For Colored Girls
Directed by Tyler Perry
Written by Tyler Perry (screenplay) and Ntozake Shange (play)
Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Dinah thought: “There is going to be a large conglomerate of people who simply don’t get For Colored Girls. This is a film that delves into the hearts and lives of African-American females for one, but more confusingly this is a Hollywood film that, rather than giving blacks a typically hollow and stereotypical portrayal, offers characters with depth and range portrayed by some of the most superb women of color in the business. Loretta Devine and Thandie Newton are memorable, stealing every scene as a love-struck nurse and sassy sexual deviant. Phylicia Rashad and Whoopie Goldberg are effortless, though given the number of storylines simply receive too little screen time. The lyrical dialogue and hypnotic soliloquies only add to the charm and uniqueness of this misunderstood movie. ” Rating: 10/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 7.2/10