Cast: Taraji B. Henson, Ajiona Alexus, Lyriq Bent, Antonio Madison
Director: Tyler Perry
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: A faithful wife (Taraji P. Henson) tired of standing by her devious husband (Lyriq Bent) is enraged when it becomes clear she has been betrayed.
So far, 2018 should be renamed, “Taraji B. Henson’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year.” For such a talented actress that is crushing the television scene right now, her movies have not had the same success. Following January’s disappointing Proud Mary, Henson follows it up with the Tyler Perry written and directed Acrimony. While Henson is incredibly convincing in the lead role, uninspiring and uncomfortable dialogue and a plotline that makes nobody likable undermines what could have been an interesting and intense movie.
The film tells us about the relationship between Melinda (Henson) and Robert (Bent) as they go from college lovers to a marriage full of resentment and a lack of respect over the course of many years. Robert focuses all of his time building a new type of battery that he will sell to Prescott Industries. To help compensate Robert’s lack of income, Melinda must pick up multiple menial jobs just make ends meet and keep their house. As tension builds and extenuating circumstances impact their marriage, the two of them make decisions that forever impact their marriage and they must face the consequences of those actions. Starting off with the dialogue, I am not the most prudish person in the world, but I would guess at least 20% of Henson’s dialogue was the word, “motherfucker.” I understand that Melinda despises her husband and his actions in the later part of the movie, but there are other ways of showing it. One of Melinda’s points is that, “when a black women gets angry, she’s the crazy aggressive stereotype.” So I entertained this hypothesis and thought to myself, would I be ok with a white woman saying these things and acting this way? And the answer to that is of course not. The only thing that changes in that situation is the targeted audience. If this was starring an all white cast instead of an all black cast, this movie realistically ends up on the Lifetime Movie Network. Tyler Perry has a tied in audience with all of his films and changing the casting would not change the intention, it would just change who would be interested in watching. The same type of people who would take Melinda’s side in this movie would take her side regardless of her race. Speaking of Melinda, I have no idea how we are supposed to feel about her, but I despised her by the end. At the beginning, I felt sorry for her and recognized that she has some severe anger issues, but felt that she was more misguided than anything. By the end, she goes off on a path that I do not know how anyone can support, but multiple people in my theatre did support her. This movie really shows the power of action and consequence, and Melinda cannot come to the conclusion that she might be wrong. Sometimes in life things do not work out for us and it takes a certain level of maturity to get past those moments and move on with our lives. Robert makes more than his fair share of mistakes, but by the end I felt like he had done more than enough to make up for his prior actions to make things right. Melinda cannot get past this which is where I cannot support her decisions in the end. Moving onto the directorial elements, one of my biggest pet peeves in movies is when there is a narration involved in a movie. While it works in certain situations like in Goodfellas, I generally prefer that the characters show us what is happening instead of telling us. In this case however, I think it works because Melinda is literally told to tell a story to a therapist. What I did not like though, was the definition of words as they came across the screen. It works in films like Pulp Fiction due to it only happening at the beginning of the film, but this movie does it multiple times. I did not come to the theatre for a 10th grade English lesson, I came to watch a competently made movie, so cut the try-hard stuff and focus on what works. Combine all of these elements with supporting characters who are absolutely incompetent and one of the worst deus ex machinas I have seen in years and you get a movie that ends up being more aggravating than it is interesting.
Overall, Acrimony is a tired movie with a targeted audience that takes no risks to reach outside of that audience. When you have a movie like that, it needs to be the type of movie that pleases its audience but can be enjoyed by anyone watching this type of movie for the first time. Tyler Perry has shown that he has the talent as both a director and an actor, but that talent was not on display here. Henson is the only redeeming part as she conveys the anger and, “acrimony,” that her character resembles. Hopefully the rest of her year goes better, but the first three months have not been kind to her.
Overall Score: 3/10