Film Review: Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls”

To say that film director Tyler

Perry has reached a pivotal point in his career with the release

of the film-adaptation of Ntozake

Shange’s 1975 Tony Award-winning stage play, For Colored Girls

Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is

Enuf, is an understatement. Although, Perry does not reenact the

play scene-by-scene, and some of the colors “intertwine,” this film

will still serve as a milestone in his career. It is the first time

that Perry attempts to create a film that does not portray any “slap-stick”

characters; but rather it pushes his craft to develop characters that

deal with very real travesties and serious issues. For Colored Girls

is Perry’s first project released in association with Lionsgate and

his new division, 34th Street Films.

With such an exorbitant cast with stars

including Janet Jackson (red), Phylicia Rashad, Kimberly

Elise (brown), Loretta Devine

(green), Thandie Newton (orange), Kerry Washington

(blue), Anika Noni Rose (yellow), Whoopi Goldberg

(white), Tessa Thompson (purple) and Macy Gray, one of

the more serious issues that Perry faces is properly spending enough

screen time on each character. While there are men that appear in the

film in intricate roles such as Hill Harper, Michael

Ealy, Khalil Kain, Richard Lawson and Omari Hardwick,

clearly the stars of the film are the colored girls.

Some of the issues that the colored

girls face include spousal abuse, promiscuity, teen pregnancy and “back

alley” abortion, child murder and rape. While Perry is able to make

many of the issues fit into modern times, some just stick out like a

sore thumb. For example, one of the scenes that sticks out is when “Nyla”

(Thompson), the youngest colored girl gets pregnant during her first

sexual experience. She then attempts to get money for an abortion, but

is advised to have a “back alley” procedure done for half the price.

Now in the ‘70s, these types of abortions may have been more common,

but in 2010 they just don’t happen anymore.

Throughout it all, however, Shange’s

illuminating poems are eloquently entwined in with the lines. During

a recent press day at the London Hotel in New York City Perry opened

up about the importance of maintaining the poetic essence of the film,

while trying to build a connecting story line around the colored girls.

He said, “For

Colored Girls is a

choreopoem. Its linear…there is no story there. Its just women represented

by different colors telling their stories. So yeah, as I listened

to it, I thought it would be great to have all these women not know

each other and they are just living their lives and their paths are

crossing, all their paths were crossing and finally they all come together

at a tragic event that changes all of their lives.”

Again, this is not a film that Perry’s

loyal church audience will be expecting, let’s just hope that instead

of condemning him for pushing the envelope and testing his directorial

limits his dramatics will be similarly embraced. Theatergoers who have

either seen and/or read Ntozake Shange’s rendition, try to keep an

open mind about the changes or lack there of that Perry has made in

the film. For Colored Girls will bring much scrutiny and verbal

bashings to Tyler Perry, but at the same time it’s still a film that

every female teenager and adult should see. Perry’s film tells the

emotional stories behind the many struggles of black women; the film

is a brutal and raw depiction of the depressed realities that’s transcendent

in the lives of many African-American women.

Tyler Perry’s For Colored

Girls opens in theaters nationwide November 5th.