My friend Leah posted a really lovely review of Tyler Perry’s film For Colored Girls (2010) and I asked if I could (re)post it here. She very generously said that I could.
Left is a pic I ‘borrowed’ from her facebook page, and this was ‘borrowed’ from her blog intro:
[I am a] thirty-something female who has a past, present, and future. Now and then something interesting catches my attention and I write about it. I’ve given up on corporate America for the time-being and am following my passions. I am most passionate about building community through coffee with my friends, writing into the wee hours, reading endlessly, & helping plant a Church focused on transformational community.
If only we wore the same sized shoe and she didn’t live so far a way… Anyway, without further ado: Below is Leah’s November 8th post “Movie Review: For Colored Girls” from her blog “Things I’ve Learned So Far…”
I have always had a great love of African American Literature and History. One of the pieces of literature I loved in college was For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. My love for this series of poems was built on some deep identification with hurt. At the time, I was self-destructing in my own head because I was unwilling to acknowledge that I’d been abused. I was attempting perfection because of my strict religious upbringing. I knew what it meant to be raised in a world where men & boys had the freedom and power to do what they wanted and use/misuse their gifts and women & girls were considered weak, temptations, and perpetually guilty of both their own sin and the sins of men around them and therefore needed to be controlled, subdued, and have their power taken.
Today I viewed Tyler Perry’s film version of this work with the abbreviated title of For Colored Girls. Going into the movie I knew that the cast was an amazing group of actors including: Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elisa, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, and so many more. What I wasn’t sure of was how well the script could hold up against the beautifully written poem. I also wasn’t sure how Tyler Perry was going to translate the poem itself into a story without losing that beauty.
But he managed it…and managed it well. He built story-lines and deep characters while making them relevant in 2010. Through all of that he also remained true to the original writing by having the characters recite sections of the poems at length. My initial skepticism fell away as Kimberly Elise’s face responded to the hurt and promises of Gulf War vet Michael Ely or as the sisters Thandie Newton and Tessa Thompson hated and loved each other with passion and ferocity. The always lovely Phylicia Rashad made me wish for a nosy neighbor. Macy Gray frightened me in her loss of self. The use of music and spoken word intermingled with climactic scenes made my chest feel tight and brought tears to my eyes. Several times while watching I found myself taking mental snapshots with a goal of memorizing lines and inflection…or wanting to find my copy (which I have long-since given away) and see if I’d underlined specific sections or lines being recited.
And as the women recited “a laying on of hands” near the end, the tears fell and I suddenly found myself wondering the following things:
- When did I decide again that my own health and well-being wasn’t worth working on?
- Why do I continue to give others the right to steal my voice?
- When someone’s words or actions are hateful towards me, what makes me try harder to get them to live out a different story? To believe me? To treat me fairly?
- Why do I shy away from conversations about using my spiritual gifts…even if men and women in the church are “uncomfortable” with me? Why won’t I just point them to God and ask them to take it up with Him?
- What makes me stay in situations that are unhealthy, unwise, and misery-making for me rather than walking away and letting others deal with the ramifications of their isolation, meanness, and lack of concern?
- Why do I repeatedly continue to do things I not only do not enjoy, but hate doing because I don’t want to deal with the disappointment of other people?
For Colored Girls (2010) directed/produced/screenplay by Tyler Perry. IMDb; wiki. Based on For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange (Scribner Book Company) wiki ; powells.