Fatal Attraction (1987) starring Glenn Close and Michael Douglas....Oops, I'm sorry...
Tyler Perry's "Acrimony" (2018) starring Taraji P. Henson and Lyriq Bent is a story about a young college girl who falls for a seemingly brilliant, aspiring inventor/engineer. The two form a bond that is inseparable...or so we thought.
"Acrimony" opens with an infuriated Melinda Gayle played by Taraji P. Henson. Melinda is visiting with a court appointed psychiatrist explaining her side of the story regarding her deep frustrations with her husband Robert played by Lyriq Bent and his new fiance' played by Crystle Stewart. The opening questioning and dialog session here between Melinda and the voice of the psychiatrist (whom we never see) is quite engaging to say the least (we owe this to Taraji only). The camera stays on Melinda for at least 5 minutes as it does a slow push to her character signifying the descent into her madness. As Melinda explains further we are slapped and then kicked right into the story as we, the audience look around at each other not completely aware of what we've gotten ourselves into.
A young Melinda played by Ajiona Alexus is maneuvering her way through college and the woes of life. I must admit here that the character of young Melinda is confusing right off the bat. We are given a seemingly young, sweet, unassuming girl with an underlying rage/frustration boiling somewhere within her? In the midst of her focus and frustration she literally bumps into a Young Robert played by Antonio Madison. It's the typical "Boy bumps into Girl on campus in the rain knocking her papers out of her hands. Girl beats the crap out of Boy for doing so and runs. Boy follows Girl to her dorm returning one of the papers she dropped and it's love at first sight". You know ladies? Yeah that scenario...
Taraji P. Henson, "Acrimony" (2018)
Robert seems like a nice guy at first. He begins to hang around Melinda like a little puppy. When her mother passes, whose there? Robert. They begin to spend more time together. They take long night walks against unnecessary CGI green screen backgrounds when the real outside would've been just fine. They talk more about goals like his invention, the self charging battery that they jointly named "Gayle Force Wind" and how he is going to pitch it to a big technology firm some day. When Melinda gained an inheritance under unfortunate circumstances, Robert's nature was revealed. Now when I say it is downhill from there, I don't mean that the movie starts off great and drops off, I just questioned if this movie should have been made!
To her credit Taraji P. Henson is a phenomenal actress. It is ONLY because of her that we continued to sit and have our intelligence insulted scene after deplorable scene. Writer/Director Tyler Perry plays on the emotions of his female audience in such an irresponsible way that it just gets offensive. Everything in the film ends up being reduced to, as my good friend Darren said "an episode of Good Times" were the entire cast is "Keeping their head above water, makin' a way when they can..."
I think it is important to understand that films work a little differently than stages plays. I say this because we all know that this is where Tyler's roots are. Acting is exaggerated for a stage play because the audience needs to see, feel and hear all that is being presented in a story solely through it's cast. A film production no longer needs these exaggerated character types because we have cameras, microphones and an entire set to help the audience understand how we should feel about the story. For Tyler Perry's Acrimony, many of the exaggerations that were present, were not needed; the exggerations were even confusing. The exaggerated format for the story telling in this film and many of his other films is what hurts the project every time.
The first and second acts of "Acrimony" were actually tolerable for the most part if you wanted to suspend disbelief for a moment. The third act however is just irresponsible and inexcusable. The tragedy of a film such as this is, you take a grade "A" actress with a descent supporting cast and just throw them all off of a cliff into the foolish and mundane. Not even Taraji's hard work and perseverance into madness could save what Tyler concluded us with.
After 120 minutes of trite, my wife, good friends and myself all stared at each other as the lights came up. Feeling Acrimony towards this film, the crowd quietly exited the theater realizing that, while "...its more fun at MJR" as the opening intro song suggests...its not fun having one's soul drained for 2 hours.
Run! Save yourselves!!!