Film & TVReviews

What Critics Are Missing About Tyler Perry’s ‘Acrimony’

Acrimony

“Tyler Perry’s Acrimony, presumably titled to set it apart from your acrimony or mine, is a female revenge saga packed with so much hysteria that it could set back the burgeoning #MeToo movement a beat or two. Showcasing Henson in this crass ripoff of Fatal Attraction is like shoving a comet in a shoebox.”  – Rolling Stone

“The moral of “Acrimony” seems to be: Leave a bad man, especially one who cheated on you before marriage and leeches off your financial resources — unless he has poured his life into the dream of inventing a self-recharging battery, in which case the bonds of matrimony are sacrosanct and no sacrifice is too great.” – New York Times

“The low budget production values show up every so often to remind you that you’re watching an overlong episode of a soap opera. There’s bad use of green screens, actors who look under-rehearsed and enough drone footage of the Pittsburgh waterfront to double as a travel ad.” – Roger Ebert

Acrimony, Tyler Perry’s latest rendition of a black woman scorned, is being hit with mostly negative reviews.  While many acknowledge the talent of lead actor, Taraji P Henson, no other review attempts to credit the strengths of the film.  I felt a need to focus on the positive aspects of Perry’s endeavor in hopes that we all may all grow to appreciate the innovation that is the film.  Below, I have included several exceptional features of the film. Keep in mind that there are a lot of great concepts to look for in this movie, and this list is by no means exhaustive.

Newport 100s as a Supporting Actress

AcrimonyThe inclusion of Newport’s character was essential to the plot.  Melinda’s (Henson) descent into insanity and delusion is only made possible with Newport’s support.  Newport, who was completely absent from and never referenced for the entire first half of the film, abruptly appears on screen full-bodied and fuming.  Nestled between Melinda’s fingers, the supporting actress seems to be the only thing keeping our protagonist from falling completely off the edge. She leaves her mark on every scene, oftentimes upstaging the lead with her smoky presence.  While she has made many appearances in Perry’s films, most often as the sidekick to once-strong, now slipping into psycho female leads (most notably alongside Janet Jackson in Why Did I Get Married), this may be her best work yet.  I sense a supporting actress nomination in the works for Newport’s performance.

Ushering in Moviegoers to the world of the stage

AcrimonyBy shaping his films to visually read like plays, Perry does his part to bring the world of theatre to the moviegoers. In one particular scene, Melinda’s sisters and their husbands confront the protagonist regarding the foreclosure of the family home.  Despite emotions running high and heated words being exchanged, they manage to nail the stage-inspired blocking. While most films seek to capture the intensity of this pivotal moment in speech, tone, and physical embodiment, this scene’s strength is in its stillness.  Inspired by Christmas cards and family photos, the sisters and their husbands stand in height order, managing to only move their mouths and faces to communicate their disappointment and distress. Coordinating it so that four people stand virtually motionless, hands stuck to their sides while they hurl insults, is no easy feat.  There are other moments where Perry employs this novel quiet-church choir choreography, and each time it highlights the contrast between the still and moving characters. Their glued feet cause you to glue your eyes to the technique “in-action.” While most try to inject the spirit and energy of a play into a movie as a means of mediating potential miscommunication across genres,  Perry goes against the grain with this unprecedented technique.

He’s Not Crazy, You Are

AcrimonyPerry’s ability to address any dating, marriage, or family issue that women viewers may have with an extended, spectacular parable is nothing short of prophetic. Perry has so dutifully shown us, time and time again, when there is some horrible life-changing event some woman went wrong somewhere; she may have tried to establish a healthy boundary, refused to continue being a doormat, or decided to end a toxic relationship.  These actions are often what sets the catastrophe in motion. Our lovely protagonist Melinda thinks her problem is that she has spent her entire life working several jobs and draining her inheritance while her husband sits at home fiddling with a battery. She is completely okay with this, and only becomes bothered when she suspects him of cheating. However, the anger she experiences from the cheating is not compounded. She is just really crazy when it comes to sharing her man.  The years spent working two jobs while he husband ran up the electricity bill conducting experiments did not contribute to her anger. In fact, it turned out not to be anger, but jealousy. After all he did right by her. He tried to get her back, with that one conversation. He even gave her ten million and her mother’s house after the divorce. But Melinda’s mistake was deciding to divorce him after losing her mother’s house and having nowhere to stay. We know it had been twenty or so years, but if she just held on for a few more months, even though improvement was not even on the horizon, she would have reaped her reward.  As Perry always reminds us, you may think it’s him, and everything may point to him, but it is you. Melinda needed a prayer and a change in perspective.

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