When I saw the all-star cast of For Colored Girls – Thandie Newton, Whoopie Goldberg, Loretta Devine, Kerry Washington, Phylicia Rashad – I somehow convinced myself that in spite of the misfortune of having Tyler Perry as the director, this film would still be a true gem. Of course, I was wrong.
For Colored Girls is an adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Described as a “choreopoem” – a staging that fuses, poetry, music and dance – the play is comprised of a series of twenty poems that follow the tumultuous lives of seven different African-American women who are each represented by a color). Although the film adds two more women (and subsequently two more colors), it generally sticks close to its poetic roots.
Herein lies the main problem. Throughout the film, the lead characters recite powerful poetic monologues right in the middle of dialogue. These abrupt shifts from the conversational to the poetic are painfully annoying. A mother and daughter physically assault each other and then relieve themselves by simultaneously reciting spoken word? Lying on her side in the emergency ward of a hospital, the survivor of dangerous illegal abortion freestyles to a police officer? Really? Apparently every Black woman in existence is secretly a poet. Come on, Tyler Perry. I can only suspend my disbelief so much. Save the melodrama for yo mama (seriously, her demographic loves soap operas).
Another qualm I had with the film was its lack of depth. Perry googles abortion, infidelity, infertility, domestic abuse, rape, sexual promiscuity and occultism, but rather than seriously investigating how these issues affect Black womanhood, he lazily skims the wiki pages and contently closes the browser. A great example of this occurs when Thandie Newton’s character, Tangie, a woman who shuns relationships and lives only for sexual intimacy, reveals that she was abused by her father. Rather than exploring why Tangie enjoys her frequent one night stands, Perry defaults to the abuse cliché. I do not mean to undermine the fact that she was abused because that is certainly a traumatic experience, but I have truly grown weary of seeing unconventional sexual behavior portrayed so dryly. Contrary to popular belief, not all women who enjoy unromantic sex are victims of sexual abuse.
If you were to write “Tyler Perry” on a napkin, I would wipe my ass with it. If you were to give me a Tyler Perry film as a Christmas present, the following holiday season I would celebrate Hanukah. If you were to personally introduce me to Tyler Perry, I would personally introduce our friendship to an abortion clinic (Don’t ask me what that means because I don’t know either). In short, I am not a fan of Tyler Perry. Nevertheless, I truly attempted to be unbiased in my viewing of this film. As I said earlier, I wanted to like it and I actually did like the parts that weren’t terrible. It was definitely a plus to see so many women of color in lead roles. I hope to see more of this in the future. However, I would prefer for those roles to be good.
*This review is rather short because it’s going to be printed in my school paper. I’ll probably write a more expanded post in the future. Although I didn’t like the movie, it raised some questions that I want to address at some point.