Wednesday, November 03, 2010
For Colored Girls
I discovered and fell in love with Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf" in high school. The poetry spoke to my soul. The hurt, pain, misery, love, life and resiliency jumped off the pages to me. I've seen it performed on stage a few times as well. Each time, it brings me back to the first moment I read it. I stay in love with it. The words and emotions are so raw and untouched and just real. When I heard that it was being optioned for a film,I was excited. When it was revealed that Tyler Perry would be directing it, I wasn't as thrilled. I like Tyler Perry but was skeptical about his take on something so precious and revered by Black women.
As a woman who is completely invested in Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf," I have conflicting opinions about Tyler's film. He got some points completely correct. In other areas, he dropped the cinematic ball. It was good and it was not so good. After seeing the film, I think I can say I enjoyed it. I did not love it as much as I did the choreopoem when I first read it though.
I loved Kimberly Elise & Michael Ealy's story. It was lifted straight from the choreopoem. They were both exactly their characters. The storyline of Tessa Thompson & Macy Gray didn't really make sense in 2010. Both were good in their roles but the storyline is from 1975 and would be totally different in 2010. I think Tyler could have reworked that some. Phylicia Rashad's talents were wasted in this film to me. Her greatest scene was with Thandie Newton and she completely blew it out of the water. Whoopi's character was insane but she had to be. Whoopi played crazy very well. Janet was stoic and stiff just the way she was supposed to be. I'm not that big of a fan of Janet, the actress. She has this way of smiling when she is crying that disturbs me. Her final scene with her husband, Omari Hardwick was completely unrealistic to me. Her calmness and lack of emotion in her face was counterproductive to the words coming out of her mouth. That scene should have been bigger. Janet's character never broke when a normal person would have.
Anika Noni Rose and Khalil Kain's story was awesome. It felt like the original work. Anika's color was yellow and she was as bright and sunny as the color she portrayed. Khali's character was charming and witty and then completely despicable. The standout character to me was Thandie Newton. She was excellent in her role. From her walk, talk and style of dress, she nailed it. She was the character you wanted to hate but couldn't. Loretta Devine was great in her role as well. She was the character that pulled off the poetry pieces the best. Ntozake's words just came out of her mouth like air. Perfection on that point. Kerry Washington and Hill Harper were great as well in their storyline. The scene where Kerry helps Kimberly scrub the sidewalk was powerful.
I hated that I could tell where Ntozake's original words ended and Tyler's began. There was some disconnect between the authors. It was obvious to me because I am so familiar with the original work. So, it wasn't a great film but there were moments of sheer genius. Tyler, in my opinion, did not do the choreopoem justice. People who aren't familiar with the choreopoem will no doubt love this movie. I can't knock that experience for them. Maybe I am too biased, too vested into the poem. I will probably have to watch it again to see if my feelings will change. I still think people should see and support this film. the good outweighs the bad.
"& this is for colored girls who have considered suicide/but are movin to the ends of their own rainbows" - Ntozake Shange