I think it's important for you to have some basic knowledge about me for you to fully understand my review. As you can probably tell (from this post title) I grew up very sheltered, thankfully not exposed to most of the horrifying acts that occurred in this movie. I was born in a third world country and partially raised there until I moved to NY. I humbly confess that I have never lived in the projects and have spent most of my US years in the suburbs. I grew up in a culturally strict Caribbean family which definitely influenced my views of myself and the world. With this being said, although I may not be your home girl from the block I've interacted enough with others (friends and patients) to be able to give my two cents.
I will start out by saying that I feel the movie was well done. I won't say that I hated it but I also can't say I loved it. I enjoyed the poetry and the creativity. All the actors played their characters very well and made an impression on me in some way (good or bad). I must admit that I almost used up a whole roll of toilet paper by the time the movie was over. I did not know much about the movie (shameless confession) prior to seeing it so I entered it bright eyed and bushy tailed but came out with big frightening eyes and mouth wide open.
Now, since I have not seen the play or read the book, I don't really know how closely Tyler Perry portrayed the original story (therefore I cannot comment about that). Anyway, a fault that I have with some of Tyler Perry's movies and others is the negative light that males are portrayed in. From the married men who intentionally sought out sexual pleasure by cheating on their wives, to the successful husband who ends up also being a cheater and a man who enjoys having sexual relations with men, to the cheating loser who repeatedly goes back to the woman who hurt him, and finally to the father with mental health issues who abuses his children's mother and murders his children. The only male with any redeemable qualities was the supportive, understanding husband played by Hill Harper. This was very disappointing. Another disappointing point about the story in my opinion is that it provides no hope.
I was blown away by the stories of all the women in the film. The female characters were powerful women that were all beaten down by life in some way. But, I wished the movie would have been more triumphant. I guess I kept looking for the hope in the movie but could not find any. Some strong points about the movie is the emphasis on sisterhood and the importance of women supporting each other. But again, it went back to the same thought --does it have to take being badly treated by males for women to bond together? I guess there was a little hope in Tessa Thompson's character (Nyla)...meaning even if you come from messed up beginnings it's still possible to go to college and hopefully become successful. I wish their could be a part 2 that showed how these women overcame their individual barriers. I guess I like happy endings but I know that for some there is no such thing.
At the end, I couldn't help but think that: Crystal will never be at peace and will forever be haunted by guilt, Jo will continue to live a long bitter life, Juanita's moment of self confidence will be only short-lived, Tangie's self hatred as a result of being a victim of incest will last for generations, Yasmine will continue to have post traumatic stress symptoms despite the death of her attacker and she will probably have a difficult time trusting men, Kelly may continue to feel guilt and possible hopelessness as she continues to work in a system that she cannot change, Tessa will have to live with the guilt of having an abortion and may never be able to have children because of the unsafe abortion practices.
Now, I have not walked in any of the characters shoes but I was able to understand them and the struggles they faced. I was not the innocent dance instructor who's rights were sexually violated. I was not the stoic, successful businesswoman who gained a heart after witnessing a traumatic event or contracting HIV from her spouse. Neither was I the young teenager who almost died from unsanitary practices from receiving an abortion. I was not the woman who finally gained confidence to stand up to a cheating partner and realized how powerful she was. I have never been the woman so scarred by incest that she cannot define who she is. Lastly, I hope to never be the woman that will be forever tormented by not being able to flee from a situation that placed both her and her children in danger. Yet, I was moved to the core by their stories.
With all this being said, I don't believe that one has to walk a mile in someone else's shoes to be able to empathize and have one's own heart break for them. What do you think?
By the way, I saw this movie with a few lady friends. My husband wants to see the movie also but I hate seeing movies twice and especially not one that is so emotionally draining as this one.