‘For Colored Girls’ not the best movie at the box office
“For Colored Girls” isn’t your average Tyler Perry movie. The characters aren’t funny — they’re grounded in reality — and reality is harsh for these women.
From date-rape to abortion, the movie is definitely not a pick-me-up, but then again it isn’t trying to be — it’s trying to raise awareness of some tough issues facing black women today.
Loretta Devine, who plays Juanita in the film, says that one of the movie’s main goals is to expose things people don’t normally discuss.
“I know that there’s so much tragedy in it, but the poems are rooted in tragedy — so there’s no way around that,” Devine said. “I think a lot of women will be able to identify with things that are happening in the piece; they’ll go, ‘Oh, god, that’s my mother, or my sister,’ or, ‘No, that’s me,’ and sometimes a wake-up call is good.”
The movie, which is based on the play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange, doesn’t always do the source material justice; it sags in some parts, and sometimes falls apart altogether.
But — for the most part — the movie does a decent job of keeping the viewer flowing through the numerous different women’s storylines.
All the actresses did a great job with their lines (especially Divine and Janet Jackson) but the script, which was penned by Tyler Perry, lacks the punch of Ntozake Shange’s poetry.
“He (Tyler Perry) didn’t want to tear into the poetry, so he created the atmosphere around it,” Devine said.
And that’s the main problem with the movie. The characters are well thought-out, and most are dramatized well, but the movie caters to the poetry too much. The scenes go from a dramatic situation to a poetic interlude without rhyme or reason (no pun intended) and it takes away from what happened just a moment before.
It’s a mix-mash of poetry and film — not a blend — and ultimately it breaks the mood of some scenes in half, leaving the viewers wondering exactly what is going on.
But that’s not anyone’s fault but Tyler Perry’s, who wrote and directed “For Colored Girls.” And even though he didn’t do a good job with the script, he did film it well — the movie has some scenes that are almost impossible to watch because you’re wondering exactly what’s going to happen.
The camerawork is great, too; the viewer knows exactly where he or she is in time and place.
But even if the viewer knows where they are, they don’t always know why.
Some of the characters — like Thandie Newton’s Tangie — don’t seem to have any motivation behind their actions; she seemed to float around on-screen, jumping from one situation to the next. There was never any connection between her and the viewer — just a vague sense of what the character should be.
And Whoopi Goldberg’s character was the same way; perhaps that’s just her acting, but it was very hard to take her seriously.
At Goldberg’s dramatic climax, it seemed like she was just going through the motions, not caring to make the viewer feel anything at all.
Devine, however, took her time on camera seriously. For her, filming the movie was about embodying her character’s color — each of the main characters portray a different color — and Juanita’s is green, the color of charity.
“She’s a very giving woman, that’s why her color is green. I think that’s exactly why she’s in the predicament that she’s in, because she doesn’t know how to cut things off that are bad,” she said. “I really liked Juanita, which helps sometimes when you’re playing a character.”
Unfortunately, the color “For Colored Girls” gives off is gray, the color of mediocrity.
There are scenes that are absolutely great, but they’re sandwiched between too many lackluster ones to make much of a difference. Tyler Perry should learn his lesson and stick to writing comedies, not reimagining stage plays.
The film is a nice attempt at adapting a powerful play for the big screen — but in the end that’s all it is, an attempt.