Emotional Rollercoaster on Celluloid

So I saw For Colored Girls over the weekend – that was a trip. The film as based on a 1975 stage play called For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. I kinda wish Tyler Perry, who wrote, directed and produced the film, kept the original title, though I understand the movie poster with be filled with too much text, considering that it is also an all-star cast and has lots of billings to be considered. The only reason I say this is because that title does encapture the general mood of the movie. If I were in any of the character’s situation, I’d consider doing deep breaths under water.

The film is about eight women, each represented by a color, and how they dealt with infidelity, abuse, abandonment, rape, abortion, infertility, death of children and other myriad of issues they had to face as black women living in New York. Because I forgot their names in the movie, I’ll call them by their colors. Red, played by Janet Jackson, is an editor of a fashion magazine and has trust issues with a cheating husband (but it’s more than just cheating, so much more than that). Brown (Kimberly Elise) is Red’s assistant who deals with a jealous husband who came back from the war and habitually beats his wife. Across Brown’s apartment lives Orange, played amazingly by Thandie Newton, a sex-addict dealing with her own past demons and emotional abuse from her mother White, as acted out by Whoopi Goldberg. In the same floor lives Beige (Phylicia Rashad), who plays as a know-it-all guardian and super in the apartment. White has another daughter, Violet, who recently graduated from high school and wants to go to college but found out she was pregnant. She’s also a dancer under Yellow’s (Anika Noni Rose) tutelage. Yellow, a very passionate and rather timid character, was raped by someone she though she could trust. She was helped by a cop, who’s wife, Blue, happens to the social worker trying to help Brown’s children from their alcoholic father. Also in the movie is Green (Loretta Devine) who seeks financial help from Red for a community center she works for, and also dealing with her own affair with a married (?) man who constantly leaves and comes back to her as he pleases.

That basically is the structure of the movie without giving away too much – and there’s much more that find out as you watch the film.  The original stage play was set in the 70s, hence the term “colored” – a derogatory term not really used today anymore.  It’s basically an anachronism when you hear the term said and yet on screen, you see a car with GPS. Also, Perry decided to keep some of the poetry of the source – and as a film, it may throw some people off when a character all of a sudden stops moving and starts delivering long monologues said in verses. I think the lines are wonderful, but I don’t think it was very organic during the flow of the movie.

If you plan to see this movie, bring tissues – you’ll need it.