you have asked me for my take on the film, which grossed 20 million this opening weekend, so here goes. saturday night, brooklyn academy of music’s rose cinema house, it was a high heeled, fall evening, popping with anticipation for tyler perry’s adaptation of ntozake shange’s choreopoem, for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf.
the 9pm show was sold out and the audience boasted as many shades of brown as the oak leaves which now line the edges of brooklyn’s stoops and roads. there were a few men in the audience, on dates for sure. i was with a crew representing both african and indian diasporas, we ranged in age from early 20’s to late 50’s. late 50’s was on my right reciting lines. early 20’s, an out and proud queer black girl, was on my left cringing at the audience reaction to the hyper sexualized, down low brother, carl. i’m in the middle, taking in the layers, registering pockets of flatness, feeling witnessed as a colored girl who knows a little something about sexual violence, i am reminding myself to breathe and to get to the clinic, because it’s been a long time since someone talked to me about safe sex.
i’ve read up on the reviews of this film, and the word on the street is basic:
1. go see the film, i’m still thinking about it, motivated by it, days later. even if, at worst, it is a graceful nod to shange’s original breakthrough work, it is still a go-see film on the american cinematic landscape of chick flicks focused on shopping, and shopping. because in this film it’s black women talking about rape, incest, addiction, sisterhood, abortion, and it’s new york, and it’s love, even when it’s hate.
2. if you’ve been hating on perry, you still can if you want to. because in his adaptation, some shades of certain colors are sacrificed in the name of mass appeal over depth. he’s not one to make his audience work too hard, especially at key moments of trauma. for example, the babies out the window scene felt less compelling than the brilliant and tension ridden scene where kimberly elise (playing crystal) goes to get her man a drink of water instead of the alcohol he craves. the climactic moment of trauma was too packaged for me, but this was also true of perry’s adaptation, precious. why did whoopi goldberg’s character, the sanctified alice, play and serve as comedic relief throughout the film? this was aggravating, given her eldest daughter’s (played by thandie newton) relentless performance as the over-sexed and under self-loved, tangie. finally, it may be that perry’s own chittlin’ circuit era, drag status prompted him to do injustice to the gay/down-low male character.
there is so much to say about this film, but i will leave you with this for now. your comments are welcome.