The latest film from Tyler Perry, For Colored Girls, opens this weekend after much anticipation and skepticism.
Based on the award-winning play by Ntozake Shange, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Perry lined up a stellar cast including Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Thandie Newton, Janet Jackson, and several others. The play used poetry and dance to tell the story of women affected by rape, abortion, love, etc., and has been adapted and loved in the decades since its production.
To say that Perry has had problems with his portrayals of black women in the past is an understatement, and he's received more than a slap on the wrist because of it. But with such a moving body of work and an army of incredible talents behind him, what could go wrong?
Let's look at the For Colored Girls reviews to get our answer.
Claudia Puig, USA Today:
Where Shange melded poetry, drama and dance to explore black female identity, Perry opts for strained soap opera. Nearly all his creative decisions go wrong.
Dezhda Gaubert, E! Online:
Perry rarely lets his characters sink to pity, letting the steely strength of his players shine in long, steady close-ups. Seldom do actresses of this caliber get this kind of material [...]
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times:
Perry tries to be faithful to the play and also to his own boldly and simply told stories, and the two styles don’t fit together.
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times:
Mr. Perry works very hard and gets it mostly right. [...] [Perry] sings the song the way he likes it — with force, feeling and tremendous sincerity.
Most of the critics agree that perhaps Perry bit off more than he could chew this time around. The poetry that works so well on the stage is awkward in the movie, and while the acting is praised in nearly every review, it's the film itself that seems to lack direction.
At the same time, most of the reviews believe this is still a film worth watching despite its flaws, and I'll be doing just that.
Have you seen Shange's play or read the book? Will you be watching Perry's adaptation, For Colored Girls, this weekend?
Image via For Colored Girls Movie