"For Colored Girls" Perry's Rainbow is Enuf
A review of Tyler Perry's latest film "For Colored Girls"
In the movie “For Colored Girls,” distributed
by Lionsgate, Crystal (Kimberly Elise) tells her war veteran husband
Beau Willie (Michael Ealy) that she has loved him ever since they were
14-years-old. Yet love proves its not enough in this time honored tale
of “For Colored Girls,” Tyler Perry's film portrayal of Ntozake Shange's
1970’s lyrical stage play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered
Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf."
There is a lovely scene where
Whoopie Goldberg (Alice) and Thandie Newton (Tangie) recites Shange’s
poetry. Whoopie’s character (a religious fanatic) tends to use religion
and the bible as a weapon which only serves to alienate her daughters.
The verse they recite speaks perfectly to their relationship. Thandie
Newton who plays Whoopie’s elder daughter Tangie both loves and hates
her mother. Tangie hides a lot of inner pain. Pain that has corrupted
her and caused her to lose her moral compass. She barely speaks to her
mother and sister and uses men sexually yet is shocked when one of her
conquests thinks she is a prostitute. Tangie's philosophy is that men
should be treated sexually the same way they treat women. She abandons
her younger sister Nyla (Tessa Thompson), who gets pregnant the very
first time she tries love and ends up on Rose’s (Macy Gray) abortion
table, alone and terrified. Anika Noni Rose plays Yasmine, a dance
instructor, whose joy in her dancing is suddenly and forever shattered
when she invites the wrong man into her home. Kerry Washington (Kelly)is
a child welfare worker who is desperately trying to have a child of her
own but is too late to help Crystal’s children. Janet Jackson plays Jo,
(a stone faced business woman who has hardened over the years). Jo has
lost her soul to her work and has no compassion for those around her.
Ms. Jackson is becoming a fine actress if her Tyler Perry "Why Did I Get
Married" films are any indication. However, something of her portrayal
of Jo, reminded me of Miranda Priestly’s character in (The Devil Wears
Prada). The divine Loretta Devine plays Juanita, an aging Family
Planning counselor who keeps taking back a “no goodnik” man she should
of discarded long ago. Phylicia Rashad plays Gilda the apartment
manager who holds the keys to everyone’s apartment and everyone’s
Omari Hardwick as Carl, Hill Harper as Donald, Jaycee
Williams as Kenya, Thomas Jessup as Kwame and John Crow as Dr. Davis
portray the male characters in the movie. Some would say that the male
characters are cast in a bad light. Not all were. I wish to clarify
that the male characters signified the men Shange scripted in her
controversial 1970s play. These male characters could have been any man
of any race but happened to be black. They do not represent the
majority of black men.
“For Colored Girls," was a sensation upon
its debut in 1975, when Ntozake Shange wrote the piece back in the ‘70s. Ms.
Shange called her play a "choreopoem." The play consisted of 20 poems,
and some musical tunes and song and dance numbers, much of it
documenting Shange’s own personal experiences and attempts at
suicide. In her play she identified each character with a color
relating it to the rainbow, although brown, purple, green, blue and
orange were also incorporated into the color spectrum. Tyler depicted
colors via apparel with Jo wearing red. Whoopie’s character, white,
Tangie, orange, Juanita, green, Yasmine, yellow, Nyla, purple, and
Crystal, Brown, etc.
When Shange first wrote her play “For
Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” she
stated the play was raw and honest including the lost of virginity,
abortion, rape, and the need of all the characters to find love despite
some unpleasant experiences.
I think Tyler Perry has done a
fine job with this tear jerker. “For Colored Girls” holds the viewer
spell bound. Some will love it and others not but all who see this movie
will not forget it.
When I interviewed Tyler Perry he mentioned
that based on the request of his fan base he continues to do the Medea
character but wants to broaden his horizons and branch out with other
types of movies and characters. His "Married" series and now "Colored
Girls" are proof of his desire to get away from what some have tagged
"coonery" films. Although, Perry is mostly known by black people, one
cannot branch out in the film business unless they are working with
those who reign over the entertainment business. I suspect Tyler gave
those business entities what they wanted until he could put himself in a
position to put more positive work out. He is now at that place.
Thus, hopefully his "Mr. Payne" and "Mr. Brown" characters will become a
distant past replaced by more positive intelligent images of black
folks. But believe it or not, the success of the Mr. Paynes and Mr.
Browns are due to the support of black audiences that support and like
them. Therefore, like it or not, those blaming Perry for his minstrel
movies must admit that his popularity stems from the vast black audience
who continue to demand and support those chitlin circuit productions
that Tyler Perry critics call his "coonery/buffoonery" movies and plays.
So if we are to blame Tyler Perry we must also blame those among us
that love and pay money to see this type of comedy.
"For Colored Girls" is now in theaters near you.