By Scott Martin
For Colored Girls, USA, 2010
Written and Directed by Tyler Perry
Based on the Play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange
The thing that has always fascinated me about Tyler Perry’s films is how simple in structure they are. Everything has its place, and everything falls in line. It’s kind of elemental, or, even though this word implies a negative connotation, elementary; not really paint-by-numbers, but there are moments in his canon that are extremely formulaic, despite his “auteur” intent. Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005), The Family That Preys (2008), For Colored Girls – all have elements of each other, and all have elements of a distinct kind of American film: Soul Food (1997), Woman Thou Art Loosed (2004), Precious (2009); he even subtly draws from the days of the transcendence of exploitation minstrel into the hands of African-American filmmakers who made thoughtful blaxploitation films. Perry’s well-rounded direction makes up for his choppy writing.
From Ntosake Shage’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, he draws a broader portrait from Shange’s view of what it is to be a woman of color in the ’70s to what it is to be a woman of color in today’s harsher world. Love, abandonment, disease, abortion, rape – the film follows a pattern like that of 2004’s Crash in that the broad portrait is painted with broad characters to whom all bad things imaginable happen. No one falls down a staircase, there isn’t any expository dialogue, but the effort remains cyclical in the same root: stuff enough plot into the box until it won’t close properly. The play itself is nearly un-filmable, so Perry did his absolute best with what he could. Perry’s Colored Girls are more accessible in this day and age, if not more thinly written. Rather than just colors for names, he gives each woman a full characterization and uses their original monikers as a motif in their costuming. His new characters have no such motif, but are more stoic in their additions. From the moment they pop onto the screen, we know why they are there. Read More