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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

cinematic roots of: ‘For Colored Girls’

No movie springs from a vacuum. There are always influences from past examples of the genre, from the previous work of the filmmakers and stars, even from similar films that don’t quite work. If you want to understand where a movie is coming from, take a look at where it’s coming from.

In For Colored Girls, Tyler Perry makes his first foray into serious drama — instead of asinine comedy — about the lives of contemporary black Americans. This flick sprang from (among other films):

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005) — written by Perry and starring For Colored Girls’ Kimberly Elise — which opens with the kind of domestic-abuse melodrama that his new film deals with head on, but bizarrely instantly veers away into slapstick comedy.

The Princess and the Frog (2009), for more from another of Girls’ cast, see — or, rather, hear — Anika Noni Rose as Disney’s first black princess; she speaks and sings the voice of a plucky New Orleans restaurateur.

The Color Purple (1985), for a classic tale of the violence black women have always been particularly subject to in America; Girls’ Whoopi Goldberg stars in this story of racism, poverty, and sexism a century ago.

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), for another story of abusive men and the women who stick with them, featuring powerful performances by Marlon Brando and Kim Hunter as the dysfunctional couple.
Where to buy:
The Color Purple [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Diary of a Mad Black Woman [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Princess and the Frog [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
A Streetcar Named Desire [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]



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