“Tyler Perry’s ‘Acrimony'”
Let the record reflect that Taraji P. Henson is one scary broad, when she wants to be.
“Empire?” Hah. “Proud Mary?” Child’s play.
In “Tyler Perry’s Acrimony” she’s all eaten-up with crazy, dripping with homicidal intent. She’s sitting there, pouring her enraged guts out to an unseen psychotherapist, and we just KNOW she’s about to cigarette burn-a-b—h if she interrupts her again.
Let the record also reflect that Tyler Perry is not the guy you go to for a showcase of murderously scary R-rated melodrama. Ms. Henson deserves better.
Perry has her narrate, start to almost the finish, this tortured tale of marital discord and misuse. And a veteran dramaturg like TP has to know, HAS TO, that voice-over narration is the laziest cinematic storytelling there is.
You almost never see it in the theater for that reason. Seriously, if this is how he wants to tell a story, there’s a career in romance novels awaiting him. Or a Madea wig.
Henson plays Melinda, enduring court-ordered anger management for stalking, harrassing her ex, Robert, played by Lyriq Bent of TV’s “She’s Gotta Have It”).
Melinda almost sucks in her teeth with every furious drag she takes off a cigarette as she tells the story of how Robert won her over in college, lived off her for nearly 20 years while he perfected his “battery,” only to strike it rich AFTER their divorce.
What’s he owe her?
“Every damn breath in his body.”
Perry is going back to his Black Woman Victimhood trope, the one that launched him with “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” over a decade ago. He puts words into Melinda’s narrating mouth about how “Every time a black woman gets mad, she’s a stereotype.”
No dear, just in Tyler Perry movies.
The way this was probably supposed to work would be we’d hear her story, and question if she’s a reliable narrator, if she’s entitled to her suspicions of and opinion of the “con artist” who seduced her, promised her the penthouse and the yacht, and didn’t get that stuff until AFTER her suffering and support had ended.
Is she crazy, or not?
Henson and the endless narration leave no doubt.
He crosses her and she’s going to “introduce him to my bitch.”
Robert used the word “forever,” and keeps her hanging on with “a four letter word — love.”
Hackneyed? Yeah. Perry even helpfully defines words like “Acrimony” and “Sunder” (as in “Torn asunder”) with inter-titles, showing contempt for his audience as he does.
The stereotypes extend to the supporting cast, with Ptosha Storey channeling generations of African American character actresses playing siblings putting down their sister’s “no good man.”
Perry has never been his own best editor, and this flaccid drama, which has a lulu of an ending, could have shed 20 minutes of the nearly endless flashack, for starters. Plant more doubt about the sanity of Melinda’s point of view, maybe tell parts of the story from the ex’s vantage point.
As it is, about midway through this, we don’t know who we should be rooting for even though Perry’s MO is always take the woman’s side, always show male nudity if you’re going for an R-rating.
And telling your story with endless pages of sarcastic, venomous narration? It doesn’t work and even Henson was bored with it, judging from her line-readings.
MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual content and some violence
Credits: Written and directed by Tyler Perry. A Lionsgate release.
Running time: 1:53