Tyler Perry has always been able to draw intense performances from every actor
and actress he’s worked with, utilizing his own unique material as a stalwart anchor. Now,
for the first time, he deviates from the norm and adapts another African-American
author’s words for the big screen. Ntozake Shange’s 1975 play “For Colored Girls Who
Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enough.” It’s a series of poems called a
choreopoem collectively, dealing with deep seated emotional issues that many women deal
with all the time. Perry combines the poems with his own poignant script, delivering a
vivid expose on the female experience.
With an absolutely stunning cast of some of the best actresses, young and old,
Perry weaves a multi story line that brings them all together in an array of hope for the
future. And he wastes no time introducing us to them. Kimberly Elise is Crystal, suffering
from an abusive relationship in the form of war torn vet Michael Ealy; Janet Jackson plays
Jo, cynical head of a high profile fashion magazine; Whoopie Goldberg embodies the
religiously fanatical Alice; Loretta Devine portrays lovelorn Juanita; Thandie Newton
celebrates promiscuity as Tangie; Anika Noni Rose renders the part of troubled dance
teacher Yasmine ; Kerry Washington’ s Kelly is upset about an extremely personal matter
and Cosby Show alum Phylicia Rashad struts her stuff in the role of nosy apartment
I was talking to one of my co-workers who had seen the film, and he wasn’t very
appreciative of Perry’s depiction of the black male gender Any man, including yours truly,
will immediately see that although For Colored Girls primarily concerns women, it is
simultaneously a searing indictment of African-American men’s treatment of them, and
that many of their issues are caused or at least contributed by Black men. Nevertheless,
the actors here are no less intense in playing their roles.
Thankfully, the one saving grace is Hill Harper who plays Donald, husband to
Kerry Washington’s character. He deals with the obvious pressures of being a police
officer, yet still manages to be a loving, devoted and supportive spouse regardless of
Most of this film takes place during the late hours, allowing Perry’s
cinematographer Alexander Gruszynski, free reign to use some effective film noir
techniques. His subdued lighting , especially during times when these women are at their
lowest, poring their very souls into Shange’s poetry, enhances our fascination as we
discover how really profound their anxieties are.
Every player (designated by a color in Shange’s play) literally masters their
respective roles before you, the most outstanding being Janet Jackson. Her Jo is assigned
the color red, and Ms. Jackson more than confidently exudes the scarlet fire like intensity
adhered to it. The pain she experiences maybe beyond some women’s comprehension
unless, they have gone through it themselves.
It’s been awhile since Whoopie has been on the silver screen. I was quite fascinated
with her role as Alice. While trying to protect her daughters from worldly filth, she still
represents those legalistic standards I had to break away from when I first got saved. I’m
sure there are many who can identify with living with this type person. Whoopee aptly
nips the part in the bud.
All of Perry’s films , now, no matter original or adaptations, have an unmatched
dramatic quality courtesy of Oscar worthy performers who always transport us into
believable worlds. I only hope and pray that one day the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences will recognize this quality and nominate Mr. Perry or at least some of his cast
for that elusive golden statuette.