Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The Color Purple

Taken from the Broadway musical which was itself adapted from Alice Walker's 1982 novel, we meet Celie (Fantasia Barrino) who, like the other African-American women in the story, is treated rather shabbily over the first two-thirds of the film by men before standing up for herself to her abuser (Colman Domingo) and, at least in this version, having her story turn on a dime (which may or may not give you whiplash) where she receives everything she could ever have wished for over the film's final act.

The film's musical numbers are crowd pleasers to be sure, but they mostly undercut the drama of events rather than enforce them with one or two exceptions. Even with this issue, the film still sticks the emotional climax leading into the film's final number of "The Color Purple." Other than Celie and the abusive Mister (Domingo) we don't get to spend that much time with the other characters, many of whom are fairly thinly written, placing hurdles for our actors to properly flesh them out. That said, the performances are solid throughout.

Other performances worthy of note are Danielle Brooks as Sofia who is one of the few characters other than Celie to get her own story, Halle Bailey as Celie's sister, and Taraji P. Henson in the somewhat confusing role of Mister's mistress and Celie's confidant. Of the group, Brooks is given the juiciest role and seems the most likely to take home a few awards for her performance.

Those with a previous connection to the novel, the earlier film (which was also produced by Steven Spielberg), or the stage play, are likely to have a stronger reaction to the film. Given its genre, the violence of the original work is toned down which opens the film up to a wider audience but also lessens the impact of what we see characters endure on-screen. There are plenty of enjoyable movie moments here, especially centered around the film's musical numbers, but also large stretches where I grew restless with the one-note storytelling. I think the story could have benefited from avoiding the almost comical extremes in its plot, and found opportunities for more shades of gray, but there's still enough here for a recommendation.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: The Color Purple (2023)
  • IMDb: link

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