Synopsis: In 1974, Ntozake Shangeâs choreopoem âFor Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enufâ made its stage debut, combining poetry, dance and music, and most significantly, placing the black female experience center stage. In lyrical, honest, angry, funny and tender language, Shangeâs âcolored girlsâ evoked the feelings woven into the fabric of black female life in America. Within two years, the play became a Broadway sensation, won an Obie and Tony Award, and would eventually be produced in regional theaters throughout the country. Now, thirty six years later, filmmaker Tyler Perry adapts this landmark work for the big screen, integrating the vivid language of Shangeâs poems into a contemporary narrative that explores what it means to be a woman of color – and a woman of any color – in this world.
Release Date: November 5, 2010 MPAA Rating: PG-13
At the height of one particular scene between Jo (Janet Jackson) and her husband, he simply tells her, “You don’t just have trust issues, you have issues.” This line not only puts Jo’s life into painful perspective, but the intersecting storylines of all the women within the film. This is indeed a woman’s film directed by a man not afraid to set the enduring courageousness of all women on high while simultaneously blasting his own sex. Writer/Director Tyler Perry’s ambitions to evolve artistically are tested as he adapts Ntozake Shange’s critically acclaimed play into his own ballet, damaged souls and tragedy initially disguised by a beautiful fairy tale. In many respects Perry succeeds, especially in terms of casting. Everyone: the vivacity of Loretta Devine’s Juanita, Kimberly Elise’s heartbreakingly conflicted Crystal, the numbed soul of Janet Jackson’s Jo, Anika Noni Rose’s performance as a victim to trust, the self-loathing, self-prostitution of Tangie as played by Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington… Tyler Perry is nothing but extremely lucky to have such beautiful talents bring poetry to the screen. The life of a colored woman is not set to the poetry of a pop song, but to the inflicted lyricism that rises out of a woman’s struggle. Yes, as the title suggests, the issue of race is brought to light, but For Colored Girls is dedicated to all women tired of men saying “sorry”, tired of letting sex and love ruin their lives, tired of being partially responsible for allowing it all to happen. Thanks to a gorgeous cast and Shange’s original material, Tyler Perry brings to the screen a respectful love letter to all girls of the rainbow.
With all this said, For Colored Girls falls flat of greatness due to too much too often. Perry never learns to pull a punch, layering one emotional wallop of a scene after another and another and another… The result is overkill despite what powerhouse performance the audience is currently witnessing. With no room to breathe or build, it becomes impossible to completely fall in love with the movie and catharsis is replaced by exhaustion. Even Perry’s faithfulness to the original play betrays him as one poem after the other calls too much attention to the production being an adaptation. It all never feels quite right, with scenes feeling staged, even hokey at times. For Colored Girls is sincere and heartfelt in its admiration for women, but mixed results are the consequences of being overly sincere to the stage.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Tyler Perry
- Producer(s): Tyler Perry
- Screenwriter(s): Janet Jackson (Jo)Loretta Devine (Juanita)Michael Ealy (Beau Willie)
- Story: Kimberly Elise (Crystal)
- Cast: Omari Hardwick (Carl)Hill Harper (Donald)Thandie Newton (Tangie) Phylicia Rashad (Gilda)Anika Noni Rose (Yasmine)Kerry Washington (Kelly)Whoopi Goldberg (Alice)Maysie HoyAlexander GruszynskiIna Mayhew
- Cinematographer: Aaron Zigman
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA