For Colored Girls Review

I finally got to see Tyler Perry's most talked about film, For Colored Girls. I am not a huge fan as I find the fomulaic way that he operates a bit disturbing. Nonetheless I have to say this is his best artistic work yet.

I don't know what is it about movies these days but they seem to get longer and longer each year. If you are going to watch these give yourself 3 hours of free time so that you can watch every scene without any disturbance

What I didn't like about it?

Perry's moralising themes and use of stereotypes in his movies and plays can be a bit redundant. Before you see any of his movies you know there will be some preachy subtext in the plot somewhere. With For Colored Girls he tries to veer away from that but sadly fails as 30 minutes into the movie you already getting the preachy nuances he's made milllions off of. This movie is an adaptation of a play that is about women empowerment but the awkward seemingly self-conscious homophobia and afro-persimism of Perry's reeks through out the plot leaving one to wonder if the director is doing an injustice to this work of art by imposing his 'issues' on it.

Ok Janet Jackson's plastic look (too much botox Madame?) aside, her portrayal of Jo/RED is uninspired and bland. From the moment she appears on screen all you see is a Miranda Priestly (Devil Wears Prada) and few scenes in, it's Patricia (Why Did I get Married). Jackson relies heavily on caricutures which in the presence of such mesmerizing performances by her co-stars just weighs her down. In the scenes she shares with Kimberly Elise she just fades into the background as Elise steals the moments with her captivating acting.

The male characters in this movie are cheated of some substance. Yes this is a female led cast but the male characters are devoid of material to work with as most of the scenes they are in are just to lift the rants of their female co-stars. From this one feels like the director is deliberately trying to punish the men and that leaves the plot looking like a male bashing tirade rather than a female self affirmation piece. The female roles end up looking like they are who they are because of the men in their lives. Which begs the question; 
  • Why is it that every-time a black woman falls through the cracks, it is a black man who is carry the blame?  

Could we not see people (male or female) as individuals who ought to be accountable for their own actions and choices.

The monologues from the original play are powerful, descriptive and somewhat melodic in their tone. However, the occasional break from the plot by characters to recite these poems was a bit distracting as it sometimes felt unnatural. No matter how great the actors were at delivering them, they still in some scenes felt out of place. Like in the final scene as the ladies sit together on the roof top. The scene and the dialogue felt forced.

What I liked about it?

The acting in this movie is superb even Janet Jackson's performance is not a complete disaster. The guys too do have few moments of glory even though their characters lacked some depth. A surprise brilliant performance is given by Loretta Divine. Her character is endearingly funny and loveable. Even in her hour of sorrow you can't help but chuckle at her situation. In the scene where she gets home to find her boyfriend gone, once again, you want to feel sorry for her but can't help laughing at Devine's sheer helplessness in that situation. I know most women went, “I have been there, sista”.

Kimberley Elise and Thandie Newton offer Oscar worthy performances as pain stricken women. Elise's character is dealing with an abusive alcoholic husband while Newton is masking the pain of her love devoid life by being promiscuous. The intensity with which these two women carry these characters throughout the movie is inspiring.

What I really enjoyed about this movie compared to Precious, is that it has some humour. For we know that laughter is the best medicine. You will find solance in humour in the most trying of times and this movie offers that effortlessly. As crass as Newton's behaviour is, it still offers some comic relief. Whoopi Goldberg's character will make you feel guilty about wanting to laugh at her antics while Macy Gray's character, though not as funny, will leave you wanting more scenes for her.

And Anika Noni Rose, oh Anika. Though her performance gets overshadowed by the more dramatic characters like that of Newton and Elise's, she will move you to tears with her earnest delivery of lines. Who would have known that the quirky girl we have come to know from The No.1 Ladies Detective could be such a powerful performer?


Like I stated before, this is by far Tyler Perry is best work. The movie is visually entertaining and has some moments in the plot that will leave you breathless and reaching for the tissue. It relies heavily on strong performances from its stars and they deliver. Though Perry's portrayal of black male characters is somewhat disheartening and might fuel the notion that he is exploiting black women's 'issues' with their black men by offering them yet another male-bashing excuse of story-telling, this movie is a delight to watch. Undoubtedly the themes in this movie will resonate with a lot of female audiences but it's nothing new to the cinematic platform, think Waiting To Exhale, Why Did I Get Married, Soul Food, etc. 

For Colored Girls is lifting and a must see if you haven't seen it.

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