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Review: The Color Purple. Female rage at its best

  • Release year: 2023
  • Director: Blitz Bazawule.
  • Producers: Quincy Jones, Scott Sanders, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.
  • Screenplay by: Marcus Gardley.
  • Cinematographer: Dan Laustsen.
  • Music by: Kris Bowers.

Synopsis: Celie is a woman shaped by abuse who learns to fight back and choose the life she wants thanks to all the women in her life.

Shotgun Commentary: the film you watch when you just want to rage about sexism and racism for a bit.

Celie (Fantasia Barrino) singing in her shop. Source: The Color Purple (Blitz Bazawule, 2023). TM & © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

The Color Purple follows the story of Celie (Fantasia Barrino). Celie is a girl who is sexually abused by her father, birthing two kids that he gives away before selling her to an abusive man that basically wants a slave to cook, clean and be further abused. Throughout her whole life, she is inspired by three women to eventually break free and choose her own destiny.

There’s people… and then women

This film is based on a very interesting concept, how black women are still slaves after the abolition of slavery. They are treated like cattle, like objects made only for the pleasure of the men in their lives, unable to make choices or live independently. In this climate, three brave women rise against all expectations. They build the life they want regardless of what society expects of them. These women make the whole feature worth it, transforming a devastating story into one of hope, rage and courage.

Thank you for the music?

The musical numbers are a great accompaniment to the account. However, they don’t really add much to it other than emphasising the “label” of each character.

Shug Avery (Taraji P Henson) singing. Source: The Color Purple (Blitz Bazawule, 2023). TM & © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

Shug Avery (Taraji P. Henson) shows her sensuality and power, Sofia (Danielle Brooks) accentuates her fighting spirit and independence, and Nettie (Halle Bailey and Ciara) expresses her sweet, playful and rebel personality.

All of these, alongside Celie’s weak demeanour and melancholy, are clearly represented through the narrative. The tracks, all beautifully sang, only add some extra feeling to them, but no relevant information.

Who run the world?

The main attraction of The Color Purple are the female characters. The fantastic character creation pairs with incredibly talented performances to deliver a dazzling experience.

Shug Avery showing Celie how she looks with her lips red. Source: The Color Purple (Blitz Bazawule, 2023). TM & © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
All rights reserved.

The dynamics between female characters is devastatingly realistic and tear-jerking at the same time. Women trash-talk about other women out of envy, even helping men abuse them because it makes them feel good to see them suffer. This irrational hate of people you consider better than you is specially accentuated in the female population of small communities. Because there are fewer people, there are also fewer opportunities, and they are taught that they have to compete against other females for a decent husband and future. This creates ruthless survivors, hurt women stepping on other hurt women instead of helping them mend their wounds.

At the beginning of the film, you can see that it is every woman for themselves. That leads to tragedy and betrayal. It is not until they begin helping one another that their lives begin to turn for the better.

The victim

Celie, the protagonist, is the biggest example of dynamic. She lives under her husband’s thumb, a man whose name she doesn’t even know, and envies strong women like Sofia for not letting themselves be abused like her. However, thanks to Shug Avery, she learns the value of sisterhood, and soon enough, she finds herself living on her own terms.

Celie celebrating her pants and her new life. Source: The Color Purple (Blitz Bazawule, 2023). TM & © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

The character of Celie is interesting because it embodies the victims of abuse, whose behaviour is seldom understood by anyone who hasn’t suffered from it too. At first, you pity her, but after several years have gone by, you begin to resent her for not standing up for herself, for not changing anything about a situation that is slowly destroying her. It is a love-hate relationship with an ending that feels way lighter than the intensity of her suffering, leaving the audience with an itch-half-scratched feeling.

The brave

Nettie, Celie’s sister, is the ghost of the tale. At first, she is the personification of inconformity and freedom, but her return embodies the political commentary of the film. In very small doses, the movie criticises the British Empire and its senseless conquering thirst.

As for Shug Avery, she is an independent woman whose lifestyle weighs heavy on her. She drinks and party to compensate for her father’s rejection, but she is always willing to share her wealth and help a woman in need. Her bold personality is incredibly charismatic, and Taraji P Henson was the perfect choice to personify that. She hits all the nuances of Avery’s complexity effortlessly.

Shug Avery making a grand entrance. Source: The Color Purple (Blitz Bazawule, 2023). TM & © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

The fighter

Sofia (Danielle Brooks), the last one of the trio of women that inspire Celie in her journey, is by far the most stirring one. She is strong and hot-headed, she had a rough bringing up, which made her a fighter. Her pride sometimes gets in the way of logic and rationality, but that doesn’t stop her from being who she is and taking no mistreat from anyone.

Brooks brings Sofia to life in a gorgeous display of talent, showing all facets of Sofia’s personality. She is funny and wild, stubborn and powerful. Life tries to beat her spirit out of her, but she comes back from the darkest of places stronger and with an even more beautiful soul.

Her journey is truly compelling, and it is an absolute disappointment that she ends up with the man that hit her. It is irrelevant how much they love each other or how much he has changed, building up such a force of a woman to then give her that ending feels like a scam for the audience.

All the village getting together for a Thanksgiving meal. Source: The Color Purple (Blitz Bazawule, 2023). TM & © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • If a man raises his hand at you, he doesn’t love you. Leave. IMMEDIATELY.
  • Other women aren’t the cause of your problems, you and your decisions are.
  • If you need to hit a woman to feel like a man, you don’t need a partner, you need therapy.
Mister (Colman Domingo) being angry and jealous.
Source: The Color Purple (Blitz Bazawule, 2023).

What’s your take? Have you watched The Color Purple yet? Did you like it better or worse than the previous cinematic version? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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