Thursday, November 11, 2010

For Colored Girls, another Tyler Perry movie that is well worth seeing

While there is a sale going on over to the AMC ($5.50 all day MTWT) I have been catching up with the latest movies. Yesterday I saw "For Colored Girls" in which Thandie Newton gives a fascinating performance and other great black American actresses like Felicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, and Whoopie Goldberg emote in a flawed movie but well worth seeing. I enjoyed every moment of it, and also thought it was an important movie that focuses on women and especially the poor women in our society and what they must contend with in these hard times. There was one story that especially resonated with me. A young hard working black woman was dealing with her out of work husband and father of her two children who had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, and he was mixing his meds with alcohol and becoming increasingly more violent. In one final terrible scene he takes their two small children and throws them out of a third story window with her unable to stop him. The children are killed, he is jailed, and she goes into such a meltdown it is not thought she is going to pull out of her grief and guilt. The title of the movie refers to Ntozake Shange's stage play "For Colored Girls Who Think about Suicide" but live out the ends of their rainbows", something like that, and she does try to commit suicide. Felicia Rashad playing her next door neighbor finally talks to her very strongly and tells her she must share some of the blame for what happened before she can get over it enough to go on. Another young black woman has been visiting her from the welfare office checking on her children because she has had to go to emergency more than once from a beating from the mentally ill husband. This young welfare worker has just found out she cannot have children with her cop husband because of an earlier STD infection that destroyed her fallopian tubes and now she must deal with the murder of two children by a violent husband and father.
Just yesterday there was a long article in the Arizona Republic, one of many, about a child murdered by a violent BF. The BF (boyfriend) had already been cited for abusing the child, but the mother allows him back into her home, and while she goes to the nearby convenience store briefly, this man beats the child to death. The man is obviously mentally ill but what about the mother who lets him back in the same situation after he has been cited for serious abuse? What about CPA, the agency that is supposed to be there for abused children? I thought it ironic that just before I went to see this movie I was reading another version of it played out in headlines in my newspaper.
This is just one problem this movie tries to get at. In fact, I can't think of another movie that deals in as much depth as this one with so many serious problems ongoing today, constant in our headlines.
I could not help but be very aggravated with our film critic here for giving this movie only two and half stars which may cut attendance, but also shows his lack of accountability and unwillingness to reward a great effort. He calls the stories 'melodramatic.' I thought what kind of world is he living in?
And I thought Whoopie Goldberg was brilliant, too, playing a woman with two beautiful daughters trying to keep them safe with her own brand of religious fervor. Whoopie cannot help but make you laugh with her characterizations, but there is always a lot of truth in her performances or you would not be beguiled. She is the mother of the daughter played by the glorious Thandie Newton, an actress I think has grown and grown in her ability to create a complex character. Life is not simple! And you keep wanting to know what has made her character act that way.
Tyler Perry never shrinks from trying to portray character undergoing some sort of terrible life changing experience that requires depth to survive it, let alone keep rising out of the mire. You do think the Thandie character undergoes some sort of change after she has sent her little sister to an alcoholic abortionist who nearly kills her. Her meanness becomes too much even for her to live with. (The movie was adapted from an old play. Now days there would be nearby abortion clinics)
By the time I got to the end of this movie I did not care whether the attempt to bring along some of the poetic speeches of the stage play into a movie were altogether successful or not. They distracted some, but I just tried to listen to these wonderful actresses attempting to give these speeches well. I thought well, he almost could not have left them out without bothering all the women who have loved this play and felt that it lifted them up and gave them hope when they were in despair.
Go to this movie and sit back and enjoy. There will be riches for you to take home and remember. And just the struggle to define some of these struggles in strong drama will give you renewed energy and hope.

2 comments: said...

I enjoyed your review. I think I would like to see this one.

Joyce Gittoes said...

I am NOT a Tyler Perry fan, but I thought he did a great job making this play into a movie. I think he showed genius in weaving a storyline into a piece that didn't have a storyline to begin with... And his choice of actors was excellent! As a friend of mine said, I'm glad Mariah Carey wasn't able to do it, and Thandi Newton got to do it, instead...


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