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Kim McLarin
FILM
For Colored Girls
By Kim McLarin

Well, I saw it. Lots of reaction. Short version: not as terrible as I feared (and yes, I hate to admit that). But I walked out of the theater feeling as if I had been bludgeoned for two hours. What redeemed it was the astonishing language (Ntozake's) and the performances (which were terrific, almost-uniformly great). I was happy to pay my little 'leven-fifty to support so many beautiful black actresses on the screen. And Perry is definitely growing as a filmmaker, getting all fancy with his shots. Clearly he means well, and wants to celebrate black women (especially Janet Jackson. Can he get off his teenage crush already? The woman cannot act! What was with the Kabuki makeup? And why did Loretta's wig look so awful? Why did she look so bad in general? Poor Loretta ....)

Still I found myself wishing, wishing, wishing someone else had made it, someone who didn't seem to see black womanhood as one, long, joyless, relentless slog of bad choices and victimhood (self-inflicted, to be sure) and abuse. Someone who would not have missed the ultimate joy and affirmation in the original, nor completely denied the frank celebration of a black woman's sexual power in the original (in the movie, sex=death. Period). Someone who didn't think drama=melodrama. I mean, good Lord -- I really did feel beat up by the end. I kept thinking "She didn't mean for the audience to consider suicide, yo!" That was not the feeling I think the play left people with. At least not me.

I think the movie probably stands up better for those who don't know the original, which is legitimate. And, as the bookseller I saw the movie with said, this will drive people to the text (though probably not the folks in the audience howling at every word out of Whoopi's mouth). So, all in all, go on Tyler, with your bold self. Next time, though, please, let someone else write it while you direct?





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