Monday, 13 December 2010
There has been a lot of reviews and discussions on this show all (of which I have read) and one thing that has become clear about For Colored Girls is that it is indeed a contentious film. When you have a director as controversial as Tyler Perry making a film based on the iconic play and book (For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When Rainbow is Enuf) by Ntozake Shange which is much loved then you are going to have drama. The thing about books is that they lead itself for the reader to have a sense of ownership; for while films are watched with others you are really reading a book alone. This act allows you to create an image in your head about which you hold close to your heart and it is no different with For Colored Girls. To get up to speed, For Colored Girls actually started life as a play back in 1975 and has been performed on Broadway and in 1977 it was adapted into a book of 20 poems. The theme of the book is expressing the many struggles of African-American women. The play features seven women who represent a specific shade of colour aka Lady in Yellow and Lady in White and hence the title.
Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada (who Joanna is clearly based on) I thought this addition really helped to bring For Colored Girls into the 21st Century. The main characters are instantly relateable although with nine female leads you do find yourself forgetting about the characters until they pop back onto the screen. There are some truly wonderful performances here especially from Kimberly Elise, Anika Noni Rose, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton and Phylicia Rashad. Kimberly does the ever suffering woman theme very well and takes this role to another level so I was not surprised to hear that she got grey hairs from playing Crystal because all of her scenes were really intense. Thandie is hilarious and provides a lot of laughs as the neurotic Tangie, Anika brings a level of intensity to her role while Loretta provides a sense of compassion. Phylicia's performance stood out to me mainly because I only really know her as Clair Huxtable in The Cosby Show but she really throws herself into this opposing character with amazing results. I thought Janet Jackson was really stiff in the role as Joanna, I do believe that Janet is a moderate actress but I feel that she was really stretched in this film. In the movie each character recites a monologue from the book and while the other actresses deliver theirs perfectly, Ms Jackson leaves a lot to be desired. I personally think that Angela Bassett would have acted the hell out of this role but then Bassett has become rather typecast as the angry Black woman.
For Colored Girls is out now in the UK.
Check out the official website.
If the trailer has wetted your appetite then check out the behind scenes mini documentary about the film below.
PS: I saw this film at The Empire with a wonderful group of Black women and I was not impressed with the fact that it was screened in the smallest cinema (approx 30 seats) which was tucked away at the top floor. Not cool Empire cinema!