My Take on “For Colored Girls”

12 11 2010

11052010-For-Colored-Girls-Movie-Still-Tyler-Perry Let me start things off by stating, for those of you who don't know me and don't already know my style…I'm not a Tyler Perry movie fan. Let me also back up that statement by stating that I have nothing personal against Tyler Perry. I applaud him for being a successful black filmmaker who heads his OWN production studio and calls his own shots in this industry. I applaud him for being able to garner attention and support from practically every black actor, male and female. I just don't dig his movies, it's just not my taste. Just like I don't like period movies or sci-fi. That being said, I think Tyler Perry did a decent job with the film "For Colored Girls."

The fact of the matter is I did not go into the movie expecting the best. I am a big fan of the play "For Colored Girls Who've Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Enuf," and I couldn't see how a play comprised solely of lyrical, avant garde poetry could be made into a structured, plot-driven, mainstream movie. After watching the film, I have to say my instincts were right. The play "For Colored Girls" is all about the voice of women…through their poetry we get to know these women, to understand these women, to identify with these women. I didn't see those same women in the movie. I saw skeletons of those women, but I didn't get enough depth to make me feel deeply for them. Yes, (**spoiler alert**) getting raped is a horrible thing, and so is abortion and watching your two children die at the hands of your alcoholic live-in boyfriend. But I still wanted to know these women beyond their tragedies, which is what I felt was lacking from the movie.

To Perry's defense, it's not entirely his fault. I think that task would've been difficult for anyone directing a movie like this. Often it felt as though I was watching these women in two different worlds–film world and theater world, and those two worlds didn't coincide smoothly. I was very aware of the moments where we'd slip into theater world because all of a sudden the dialogue seemed out of place and confusing. The poetry that was beautiful and lyrical on a theater stage became stilted and forced on-screen (with one exception being Loretta Divine's character–I feel like she was one of the only ones who's poetry came off as realistic and almost conversational).

On the other hand, though, I'd like to commend Perry for taking such a risk in making this film. As a filmmaker, I know many (myself included) who struggle with the debate of art vs. commerce. Every artist I know wants to do a project that is truly "artistic" and poetic and yet can still cut them a check. Perry was able to do a piece that was very creative and very artistic and still make it sell. That is quite a feat. And to his credit I do think he did the best he could with an attempt to cinematically bring something to a culture and generation of people who have an attention span of two-minute scenes, and who aren't familiar with the play. While I don't think he hit every moment in the film, I do think he stayed fairly true to the original, I just don't think the medium of film did the piece justice. I disagree with anyone who says this film is Oscar-worthy, but I do agree that this may be Tyler Perry's best work yet.

If you really want to know that plight of "Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf," I suggest you take a visit to a local community theater and experience Ntozake Shange's words onstage for yourself or go read the book…Overall, I give "For Colored Girls" the movie a C+/B-

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2 responses

12 11 2010
Malena Jackson

Avril,
Thanks for your review. Like you, I don’t think Tyler Perry’s material is critically acclaimed, but I do respect the fact that he writes his own ticket. I was debating whether I should step away from my already FULL schedule to see the film. After reading your take, I’m going to pass. I’m not a fan of the play and don’t think I would enjoy the film. Thanks for the head’s up 🙂
-Malena

27 04 2013
My Take on “For Colored Girls” | kriteek

[…] (Repost from Convergence blog: myconvergence.wordpress.com). […]

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