For Colored Girl’s the movie based on Shange’s chorepoem, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf is now a powerful new chick flick with a cast of some of the best African-American actresses ever to grace the big screen and is directed by Tyler Perry.
Known more for his broad comedies featuring the audacious Madea, family dramas like Why Did I Get Married and The Family That Preys, Tyler Perry is not only one of Hollywood’s most successful African-American filmmakers, but one the most successful…period. Even with box office grosses of over $438 million, Perry was not the first choice of directors for this movie. Film critics feared he would inject his style on a play that is revered by so many women. But truly, you must know that the average Hollywood director is not rushing out there to make a movie about a group of ‘colored girls’ and their problems. Tyler Perry is probably the only director with the cash and the clout to get this movie made and with For Colored Girl, I think Tyler Perry has proved himself to be a really good film maker.
Starring Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, and Loretta Devine, For Colored Girls is a poetic exploration of what is to be of color , live, love and to be a woman (of any color) in the modern world. The story interweaves the lives of these women in a raw and deeply emotional movie.
The Colored Girls
In the stage version of For Colored Girls, a different color represented each woman, perhaps indicating her emotional state or personality. In the film version, the characters have names, but if you pay attention, you will notice that the colors from the play reflected in their wardrobe.
Whoopi Goldberg is Alice (White), a religious fanatic and a hoarder with two bi-racial daughters, played by Thandie Newton and Tessa Thompson.
Thandie Newton wonderful as Tangie (Orange), a deeply troubled woman with a foul mouth, an apparent drug problem and a constant stream of men running through her bedroom. Tess Thompson plays her younger sister Nyla (Purple). Nyla is a young dance student who makes a mistake that could ruin the rest of her life.
Tangie’s neighbor in the 5 story walk up apartment building is Crystal (Brown), played by Kimberly Elise. Crystal has 2 children and a depressed, alcoholic live-in boyfriend (Michael Ealy). Prepare yourself for gut-wrenching pain and tears from Elise in this a role. I don’t know of another actress who can do the ‘ugly cry‘ better than Kimberly Elise? The other resident of the 5th floor, Gilda is a witness to the lives of Tangie and Crystal. Played by Phylicia Rashad, Gilda tries to pass on her years of wisdom to these young women.
Anika Noni Rose gives a quiet, yet powerful performance as Yasmine (Yellow), a woman who undergoes a traumatic, violent event and finds strength in her love of music and dance.
The soft-spoken Janet Jackson is too understated and distant to play Jo (Red), a powerful fashion magazine owner a la Anna Wintour, whose husband has deep secrets. Rounding out the cast are Kerry Washington as Kelly (Blue), Loretta Devine as Juanita (Green) and Macy Grey in a bit role.
Michael Ealy, Hill Harper, Omari Hardwick (Dark Blue), Richard Lawson and Khalil Kain are the men who love, hurt, deceive and abuse the colored girls. Watching For Colored Girls, you will wonder where have all the good men gone. Except for Hill Harper’s Donald all of the men a low down dirty dawgs!
With these good for nothing men in their lives, in the final scene we see the women draw their strength from each other.
To be fair, I have not read Ntozake Shange’s Obie Award-winning play, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf“, so my review of the movie cannot address the differences between the play and movie or the relative merits of one over the other. Ntozake Shange’s original play featured seven women performing the collection of 20 poems that deal with intense, emotion issues. To keep the flavor and spirit of the play, much of the poetic dialogue is included in the movie. I am issuing a Poetry Warning for this movie. If you are not a fan of free form poetry and long poetic soliloquies, this movie may not be for you.
Did I like For Colored Girls? I won’t say. I will let you decide that for yourselves. What I can say, is that after watching the intensely emotional For Colored Girls, I was drained and came home and had a shot of Scotch. Make that a double!
In Theaters November 5, 2010
Read For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf on your Kindle
Read the original play, by Ntozake Shange: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf
Listen to the For Colored Girls (Audiobook)
Listen to samples from the soundtrack For Colored Girls (Music From and Inspired by the Original Motion Picture)