“I loved you on purpose,” cried the lady in blue.
i hated you the same way, is what I wanted to yell at the screen for this sketchy rendition of a masterpiece.
forgive this review for it’s randomness, but i took notes in the dark on purple paper with black ink, so I can barely make some of it out myself.
there’s a reason i’ve been hoping for the death of this film long before it came out. actually several, but let’s start with number one:
i am an artist. it took a while for me to accept that, but that’s what i am. and being an artist, i know art. FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF is art. it was art when i read it in 1995, and it was art again when Teresa Dowell-Vest, one of the greatest writers and directors i know, directed the stage play in 1998. being unfortunate enough to have witnessed the many catastrophes Perry has put on screen, i didn’t want this to end up in the same file cabinet.
For Colored Girls is a show about women, for women. it’s about women loving women, and women loving self. “how can can misogynist, self-loathing, irresponsible filmmaker bring across the views of a womanist,” i asked myself, assuming Ntozake Shange is a womanist. and what would his usual target audience (middle aged, african american women who never learned about the construction of false identities, communities, and life imitating art) think of this? “they’ll love it, i know”was my answer.
What’s hard for me is finding a good starting point, and how to enter this with you all. should i assume that most people have seen the stage play? or at least read it? No, I know my target audience, so i’ll just start from scratch:
thin lines didn’t exist in this film. the line drawn between Shange’s words and Perry’s cliche’d phrases and jokes could withstand a New York City subway system. when the poems/monolongues (shange’s words) ended, there was an immediate shift. had the brilliant, beautiful woman sitting next to me not noticed the same thing, i’d think i was crazy. i am not crazy. we, as an entire audience, attached ourselves to Shange’s words hoping they’d never end, but when they did, we sat back in our seats, slumped and frustrated at the simpleness and surface level attempts at poetry. made by the new writer.
speaking of surface level, who in the hell were these characters? thank god for the magnificent talent that made up this near-perfect cast, but they should all feel cheated. i had no allegiance to any of them. i felt nothing. i knew not where they came from nor where they were going. they could have worn sunshades throughout the whole film, and a difference would not have been made. soul-less “ghouls” created by the director, who seems to be making poor character development his signature, like Spike Lee made the stroll his.
Kimberly Elise has always been among my top five list of favorite actresses, and after seeing this film, you will know why. i can’t say for sure, but I am sure the greatness of actors such as Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose and the woman who will one day be my wife (in this life or the next) Phylicia Rashad guaranteed a quality we may not have gotten had Beyonce accepted and Mariah Carey stayed. Tessa Thompson was outstanding and Janet was a brilliant surprise, making this role one of her best portrayals of an actress, although she was merely playing the “colored” version of Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly.
While trying to figure out how and why an untreated STD worked it’s way into the film, and was never mentioned again, i counted: 1 Rape, 2 STD’s, 1 Black man on the “downlow”, and a partridge in a pear tree. and as much as i tried not writing this into the review, i have to: when can we have a “colored” film without the cliched downlow brother creating paranoia? while this issue does exist, i’d for once like to go to the theater to see a “colored” film without it. related: these bad black men, who failed to appear as anything other than a mention in the stage play, came to life as the the accomplices of these main women who apparently wanted to bring pain on themselves. [you have to take some of the responsibility. how much is up to you] is what, or close to what, Gilda (Rashad) told Crystal/Lady in Brown(Elise).
and the one solid brother in the film, Donald, played by Hill Harper, was in the clear with me until his wife’s breakdown. she had guilt on her heart because she failed to do her job which would have prevented an ungodly tragedy. he woke up, saw her crying, and let her know that his love for her would heal her, and not to worry any longer. where would you women be without a man created by Perry? LOST!
For my own pleasure, i’d love for you all to take a look at the clearly fake tattoo work given to Beau WIllie, played by Michael Ealy, and Rose, the back alley abortionist, played by Macy Gray.
aside from maybe one too many aerial shots and the light meant for a milk-skinned white woman placed on Khalil Kain’s (who played Bill) face, I give the production crew a standing ovation. out of 10, i give this film a 5.5 because Ntozake Shange’s half was damn near perfect. and the .5 comes for tyler’s attempts at beefing promotion while failing to mention his own RAINBOW on oprah not too long ago.
Darnell Lamont Walker
Production: Lionsgate and TPS present a 34th Street Films/Lionsgate production
Cast: Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Michael Ealy, Kimberly Elise, Omari Hardwick, Hill Harper, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Tessa Thompson, Kerry Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Macy Gray
Director-screenwriter: Tyler Perry
Based on the play by: Ntozake Shange
Producers: Tyler Perry, Paul Hall, Roger M. Bobb
Executive producers: Ozzie Areu, Joseph P. Genier, Nzingha Stewart, Michael Paseornek
Director of photography: Alexander Gruszynski
Production designer: Ina Mayhew
Music: Aaron Zigman
Costume designer: Johnetta Boone
Editor: Maysie Hoy
Rated R, 120 minutes