The narrative consists of various vignettes featuring largely good-natured women stuck in turbulent moments of their lives, none of whom the audience are allowed to build up much of a relationship with due to the quick flitting between characters. Well, that's one of many issues with the treatment of the subject matter. Flat direction and extremely simplistic writing thwart the efforts of an impressive female cast, who only shine when delivering the monologues taken from Shange's play. Janet Jackson is perfectly watchable as a magazine boss, exuding vulnerability from beneath her stern exterior. Macy Gray, as an alcoholic, smashes (as an X Factor judge might say) her brief turn with a moving soliloquy that isn't thwarted by Perry's indecisive camerawork.
Pretty much everyone else, including Whoopi Goldberg, fails to make an impression. How can they, when the script largely consists of each character explicitly spelling out their emotions and scenarios in the most contrived manner possible? There are far too many 'types', such as the battered girlfriend of a violent, alcoholic ex-soldier who mopes around saying stuff like, "My babies can't keep seeing their mama like this." Their particular vignette provokes unintentional laughter when the boyfriend dangles both of their young children out of the window while screaming: "Will you marry me bitch?" It's staged so amateurishly and written so primitively that the tragic scenario is turned into a hilarious dramatic clanger.
The central themes of the movie, such as infidelity and male security are also exposed in painful fashion. When an assertive woman picks up a guy in a restaurant for sex, he wrongly assumes she is a prostitute and offers to pop outside to take some cash out. In response, she explains that she simply fancied a bang and barks out: "You men with your double standards - you can do it but a woman can't?" At junctures like this, it's almost a miracle that the actress doesn't look into the camera and advise the audience that they have just witnessed some thematic exposition, such is the spoonfeeding nature of proceedings. Sporadic attempts at humour during the film also fall flat and feel like they've been lifted from a Martin Lawrence movie.
Tyler Perry movies certainly have their place in society, as they undoubtedly have a strong moral core and are made with noble intentions. On the evidence of For Coloured Girls though, he should leave the serious drama alone and stick to projects with a more comedic edge.
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