Because he's known for launching such epic schlock as the Madea and Why Did I Get Married? movies, the fact that writer-producer-actor-director Tyler Perry has become one of the world's most successful independent filmmakers often gets lost in the shuffle. But it's precisely his level of tenacity and bravado that's required to adapt Ntozake Shange's demanding, brilliant choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf into a feature film 35 years after it first shook up the theater world.
That's not to say the movie entirely works. The seven unnamed characters and 20 poems comprising Shange's original play have been expanded into a sometimes-soapy ensemble pic, in which a septet of loosely connected New York women grapple with their individual miseries against a soundstage bizarrely resembling Sesame Street. But something compelling happens here that shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Raging in Shange's still startlingly fluid verse like witches casting spells, this powerful cast (especially Jackson, Goldberg and Phylicia Rashad) reaches bravely, if sometimes clumsily, for emotional accountability that makes the high-octane stakes admirable---even if they can be uncomfortably over-the-top. Herein lies an invitation for us all to move beyond victimhood...and, in some cases, simply to get over ourselves.
Watch the trailer