Then there’s Loretta Devine as a caring nurse fed up with her inconsistent lover and Whoopi Goldberg as a zealous warner-woman whose angry older daughter played by Thandie Newton is fiercely antagonistic towards her misguided younger sibling (Tessa Thompson). There is a fleeting cameo from Macy Gray, while Phylicia Rashad appears as the nosy but nurturing manager of the rundown apartment complex where several of these women live. Such a large cast can make it difficult for individual performers to shine, but there are particular standouts in Elise and Newton, who offer the most believable acting. These women, notably Elise’s Crystal, endure such difficult trials that you easily recall last year’s Oscar darling Precious.
While I remain confident that it wasn’t remotely Perry’s intention to depict Black men in a harsh negative light, For Colored Girls perches precariously on all-out male-bashing; with the exception of Hill Harper (as a probing cop), the men portrayed are insensitive users and abusers, who are at their best when they wrong the women in their lives. Roles played Khalil Kain and Omari Hardwick, especially, are acutely observed as such. But For Colored Girls is an important work about the female experience, and there is authenticity in the actions of men – and women – as shown in the film. Even more to the point, as one female blogger asserts, “The movie truthfully and tastefully showcases hardships women go through on the daily. So if the movie slightly affects how black men are perceived, then so be it.”