Phylicia Rashad

In For Colored Girls, Tyler Perry trades in Madea for a high end, high-minded source — a beloved 1975 Ntozake Shange play — and comes away with the same sort of overheated, overstuffed kitchen sink cinematic work that’s become his calling card. It’s a mess, proving once again that the mega-rich Atlanta one-man studio’s business acumen surpasses his filmmaking talents. Granted, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf could not have been an easy work to adapt, consisting as it does of 20 loosely conjoined prose poems centered on such hot-button issues as rape and abortion. Using Shange’s reflective, elliptical prose as a starting point, Perry crafts an interwoven ensemble of women, who face some serious, pressing crises while largely sharing the same Harlem apartment building’s roof.

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Thandie Newton. Whoopi Goldberg. Anika Noni Rose. Kerry Washington. Janet Jackson. Loretta Devine. Kimberly Elise. Phylicia Rashad. A litany of strong talents given the weight of For Colored Girls and hopefully allowed to carry it as far as they can. The original play by Ntozake Shange was written as a set of poems, but Tyler Perry and company have woven them into a narrative story for the screen. This trailer is exciting. Perry has built an empire, but this may be the film that finally pushes him out of the soap opera make-up smear and proves he has the talent to deliver real drama. Not bad for a guy who started out in elderly drag.

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