For Colored Girls (tbc)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/12/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 133 mins

For Colored Girls is a full-on misery-fest that sticks too closely to the original play and occasionally tips into hysterical melodrama but it's ultimately worth seeing for the superb performances from a strong ensemble cast.

What's it all about?
Directed by Tyler Perry (making an intriguing departure from the family-friendly dramas that made his name), For Colored Girls is based on the play by Ntozake Shange and centres on nine New York black women, each of whom has a horrific experience at the hands of A MAN.

Tangie (Thandie Newton) provokes her building manager Gilda (Phylicia Rashad) by bringing a different man home every night; her neighbour Crystal (Kimberly Elise) and her children are being abused by her Iraq War veteran boyfriend (Michael Ealy); Crystal's social worker Kelly (Kerry Washington) discovers that she can't conceive because of a previously untreated STD; Crystal's boss Jo (Janet Jackson) suspects her husband (Omari Hardwick) is sleeping around; Tangie's mother Alice (Whoopi Goldberg) has disowned her and become a religious fanatic; Tangie's sister Nyla (Tessa Thompson) tries to hide her pregnancy from Alice and asks Tangie for help; Nyla's dance teacher Yasmine (Anika Noni Rose) goes on a second date that takes a horrific turn; and community organiser Juanita (Loretta Devine), um, can't get her less-than-satisfactory boyfriend (Richard Lawson) to commit.

The Good
The acting is excellent, particularly Newton, who's clearly enjoying herself as foul-tempered sexpot Tangie, while Rose, Elise and Thompson deliver powerfully emotional performances in the film's most upsetting storylines. There's also strong support from Goldberg, Rashad and Devine, though Jackson struggles to keep up and is hampered by her storyline's late reveal.

The Bad
The full title of the play is For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf, which ought to tell you everything. Unfortunately, Perry sticks too closely to the play and the film feels overly stagey as a result, with the action frequently pausing so that one of the cast can deliver an emotionally stirring monologue in the same flowery, singsong manner.

The main problem is that the film occasionally spills over into hysterical melodrama (there's one horrific moment that's more upsetting than anything in A Serbian Film), with the end result feeling a bit like a game of Misery Top Trumps.

Worth seeing?
For the most part, this is a powerfully emotional drama that's worth seeing for its superb performances, though some might find the extreme theatrical nature of the plot tips the film over into so-bad-it's-good territory.

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For Colored Girls (tbc)
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Content updated: 19/10/2019 18:50

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