"For Colored Girls" Movie Review (2010)

11/06/2010 Posted by Admin

"For Colored Girls"

Movie Review

Directed by Tyler Perry, Written by Tyler Perry (screenplay) and Ntozake Shange (play), RatedR, 134-minutes.

By our guest blogger, Matt Schimkowitz

Tyler Perry returns to the screen with a religious parable about African American woman in extremely abusive situations. Once again, favoring melodrama over reality, Perry overextends his bounds and delivers a poorly filmed series of worst case scenarios elevated to tolerable heights by a fantastic cast.

Despite the sheer amount of time Perry has spent behind the camera, he still has very little idea on how to use it or how to direct. His characters are flat, his framing is awkward and his overall message is weighed down by a hammy script filled with exhausting verses about what Perry already has pounded into our skulls.

The film is about eight women representing different threats to femininity. Crystal (Kimberly Elise) is physically abused by her veteran boyfriend; Juanita (Loretta Devine) is emotionally abused by her absentee boyfriend; Yasmine (Anika Noni Rose) is raped; Nyla (Tessa Thompson) is underage and pregnant; Tangle (Thandi Newton) is promiscuous; and Jo (Janet Jackson) is in a loveless marriage with a gay man.

"For Colored Girls" checks in on each woman as they are frequently victimized and, occasionally, brutalized; however, we never spend enough time with any one of them to allow for subtle growth. Perry gives us a little taste of everyone and attempts to make those moments count by taking things to the extreme.

In Crystal’s case, she's the mother of two children who frequently witness their father’s abuse on their mother.  Without question, her story is a sad one, but Perry characterizes her boyfriend as laughably cliché. His violence reaches absurd heights when he **spoilers** throws his children out of his apartment window.

Perry assumes that if a situation isn’t taken to an extreme, he won’t get the desired reaction from his audience--revulsion.  It's as if an abusive relationship isn’t horrible enough. How Perry works is both manipulative and melodramatic.  Worse, his script and direction are so poor, his story is rarely effective.

The cast handles all of this with control and versatility. Everyone gives a solid effort among the ridiculous monologues and one-note characterizations that break from the sense of realism Perry hoped to instill.

"For Colored Girls" is an exhausting film. Its scenarios are extreme and poorly handled, and the dialogue is unnecessarily verbose.  It’s a sad fact for fans of the play and also for those seeking a movie that shrewdly displays this criminally underrepresented perspective.

After years of playing Madea, Perry still only knows how to make caricatures of women, and this film is the sorry proof.

Grade C-

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  1. Milaxx said...

    This is the 3rd review I have read saying essentially the same thing. As someone who has the original book and saw the play back in the day this make me sad. That's not the uplifting message of the original. Something tells me I'm going to skip this an save my $12 plus parking.

  2. Anonymous said...

    While I agree that Tyler Perry isn't that great of a director in general, this movie was probably his best. I don't see how the reviewer can give it such a low rating when he actually stayed true to the original play (with the exception of his addition of the marriage with the gay man). You might as well critique the original play, which was supposed to be melodramatic for a reason. I suspect if someone else other than Perry took on this project it would have gotten better reviews.

  3. Anonymous said...

    I disagree with the reviewer, this movie is Tyler Perry's best yet. It shows his growth as a director and that his future as a director is limitless. I encourage anyone reading this comment to go see the movie, you will be pleasantly surprised.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Amazing how some say that it doesn't touch with reality...when isn't rape, adultery and so many others reality that impact woman they way that it has...unbelievable how so many people can't think beyond the title and think this movie is only for colored woman...step out of your box.

  5. Anonymous said...

    I don't think you did your homework on the play. While we don't see it in the play and its at the very end the children are in fact killed in the play...he stuck to the play very well considering that its a prose play that wouldn't translate to the big screen very well unless it got a big makeover

  6. Matt said...

    There's a world of difference between a spoken word performance and dramatization. What Perry does, the latter, he does poorly. His style overly melodramatic, and thus, removes any emotional resonance stemming from the subtlety of a simple retelling. By exaggerating every single thing about the situation, he renders his scene unmoving.

    Also, it should be noted, that if this film were able to stand on its own, any mention of its source material would be unnecessary.