Movie maker Tyler Perry has taken Ntozake Shange's play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf and made it into a film. It doesn't work. The play was basically a collection of poems that dealt with various facets of a black woman's life. Perry has written a connective story that opens up the play, but he also has left in the poems. That is what causes the problem.
The cast is full of talented people. They include Janet Jackson, Michael Ealy, Loretta Devine, Tessa Thompson, Kerry Washington, Phylicia Rashad, Kimberly Elise, Anika Noni Rose, Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Macy Gray and Omari Hardwick. To his credit, Perry gives each of these actors a chance to shine in a scene or two.
The way the story in the film is presented is by having the lives of nine women intersect in various ways. You will watch a scene from one woman's life and then the story is handed off to another. Washington plays a social worker and that takes her into contact with Elise's character who is being investigated because of her children. Newton lives across the hall from Elise and Rashad is their landlord. Elise also works for Janet Jackson
Devine is a nurse who teaches classes and works at the hospital where Tessa Thompson's character goes for some problems. Thompson is the sister to Newton's character and another daughter of Goldberg's. And on and on it goes.
The basic storyline is good and the problems of spousal abuse, rape, teen pregnancy and marital infidelity are handled in an enlightening way. It is when the characters stop in almost mid movement to recite the poems from Shange's play that the movie grinds to a halt. The language in these poems is so stilted and so opposed to the natural conversations of the rest of the film that they stand out, and not in a good way.
In other areas Perry's presentation of events is not in the best interest of the film. For example he goes all "Godfather" on us when he stages the rape scene against the backdrop of an opera. It worked for Coppola but it doesn't work for him.
The film is rated R for profanity, violence and brief nudity.
Perry has assembled a marvelous cast to bring Ntozake Shange's play to the screen but in truth he should have left it where it was. The monologues of poetry never fit in with the flow of his film.
I scored "For Colored Girls" a poetic 5 out of 10.
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