In celebration of Black History Month, we’re making daily movie recommendations, presented in chronological order of the films’ stories.
Stay tuned to Noovie every day as we highlight an original, landmark film worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.
February 22 – For Colored Girls (2010)
Based on the 1975 original choreopoem “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf” by Ntozake Shange, this 2010 feature film from writer-director-producer extraordinaire Tyler Perry tells the story of nine African-American women whose lives are interconnected around their inner-city apartment building and their immediate community.
While the film met with mixed reviews and a solid yet unremarkable box office, it’s an ambitious project that features an all-star cast all turning in affecting performances, and it is a massive step forward for Perry in an emotional work that’s far removed from his broad Madea comedies, but just as accessible and universal in its themes.
The original play combined poetry, music, song and dance to tell a dramatic story about women (all whose names were regarded as colors, e.g. “lady in yellow,” “lady in blue”) who are subjected to trials in their lives including physical abuse, infidelity, abandonment and abortion.
The film carries over the play's characters in a plot that follows several different threads: Jo (Janet Jackson) is a magazine editor whose spoiled entitlement is challenged by the traumas suffered by her assistant, Crystal (Kimberly Elise), a mother trapped in an abusive relationship. Tangie (Thandie Newton) is an overly promiscuous bartender with issues of self-respect; she’s constantly challenged by her religious mother (Whoopi Goldberg) and her good-girl sister Nyla (Tessa Thompson) who has her own issues.
Nyla takes dance lessons from Yasmine (Anika Noni Rose), whose own relationship turns brutal. Also in their lives is Juanita (Loretta Devine), a therapist who has troubles with romance. Meanwhile, apartment manager (Phylicia Rashad) floats through the women’s situations and offers her own words of wisdom.
Final resolution, or reconciliation, in the film isn’t always possible, or comes with the messiness that makes up much of real life. But there is support amongst these ladies, and the possibility of hope and real love.
Tyler Perry’s change of gears with this film wasn’t universally embraced, but the critics were highly impressed with the cast, and over the years, it has become not only a showcase for the actresses, but a pivotal turning point for the filmmaker, who’s refused time and again to be painted into an artistic corner.
At the end of 2010, the African-American Film Critics Association awarded the film with Best Song (Nina Simone), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Ealy) and Best Supporting Actress (Kimberly Elise).