Friday, November 12, 2010

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When Their Daily Lives Were Too Damn Depressing to Live

**Warning!!* This post contains mild movie spoilers!

      Today was the day I decided to grit my teeth and willingly see a Tyler Perry film.  Okay, maybe willing isn't completely accurate but I really wanted to enjoy For Colored Girls because, while I have my issues with Perry as a filmmaker, I knew that the source material was beautiful.  I am, of course, referring to the choreopoem by Ntozake Shange.  Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf is a beloved piece of literature that generations of women have enjoyed since its release in 1975.  With such a rich history surrounding this project, there was no way it could lose, right? Wrong.  So very wrong.
            Halfway through the film I was struck with a feeling of annoyance. The whole thing was so...dramatic!  So dramatic, in fact, that I mentally renamed the film For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When Their Daily Lives Were Too Damn Depressing to Live. Seriously, just take a look at some of the main plots: one woman finds out that the sexuality of her husband is questionable, rape threatens to break the spirit of another woman, yet another woman is in a relationship with a man who is abusive to their children, an inability to bear children brings sadness to one woman whenever she's around unwanted children, another woman struggles with a shiftless spouse, and a conflict of sexuality and religion test the familial bonds of three women.

            With all of that going on there was a lot of tension, arguments, and tears....oh goodness...the tears.  I believe every actress perfected the art of the single tear at some point in the film. But with this over abundance of raw emotion, I could not help but wonder: what happened to the joy?  If For Colored Girls is to serve as a celebration of womanhood, what are we really celebrating? To let the film tell it, black womanhood is wrought with drama and tumultuous experiences. The films lacks the light and balance that the book provides.

            Now, to be fair, the movie wasn't a complete failure.  The actresses did their best to breathe additional life into Shange's words and delivered inspired performances. Kimberly Elise can convey sorrow and devastation like none other and Phylicia Rashad's portrayal of a wise, “see all” landlord grounded the production.  Anika Noni Rose, who I'm used to seeing in light roles, has 2 pivotal scenes  that truly reached into my chest, grabbed my heart, and broke it into pieces. These women drop viewers right into their world and force you to walk with them, wonder what will happen next, and cheer them on to sunnier days. 

            It's just a shame that the movie as a whole doesn't take viewers to that sunnier day. 


  1. In my opinion, Tyler Perry equals drama queen. I've seen maybe 3 movies by him and in each one the plots are very predictable right down to the plot twists...if that's what you want to call them. I'm not knocking the man's hustle because he knows what sells and panders to that like a vulture on a carcass, but it's a shame that he can not write about a functional family, hell at least a semi functional family environment. It irks me to no end to know that when ever a TP movie comes out the man male character is a straight a-hole (not sure if I can curse on your blog). It's a shame that TP continues to pander to this stereotype of black relationships, while I will not dismiss that fact that these types of relationships exists, it's even more shameful that women, who are the main demographic that he is reaching out to, eat it up like a fat kid with a Hostess cake. I go back to a statement I made on another review of this movie, "Come on Denzel, make us look like a half way decent race and gender."

  2. I think it was a decent effort by TP. The problem for me is that I've seen the play twice and there are elements that don't translate from play to movie. While watching the play, the closeness in proximity to the actresses move you in a way that appeals to your emotions, senses, and imagination in a way that this movie doesn't. Also, speaking of imagination, the play suggests what you see while the movie shows what you should see. In this way, the play is more personal because you aren't given an image of what should be there, but you are guided to one, which is yours.

    Like I said, decent effort, but I feel it could have been groundbreaking with more creativity.

  3. @ Ray: I think you find his work to be predictable because he has a VERY formulaic approach to his work and he rarey strays from that formula. You're not the 1st guy to say that they don't approach his depiction of men and I realize I don't like the way he depicts people in general!!! Its like he can't pick up on the nuances of people.

    @MsShionna: I recently saw the play for the first time and now I can truly understand your comment. The play was VERY intense and seeing all of this raw emotion right before my eyes made it even more powerful. It'd be challenging to try and match that on the big screen. I can't lie, I'm still curious about what a female writer/producer/director team would have brought to this project.