The Hindu (Mumbai)

‘The Color Purple’: female leads deliver poignant movie magic

Blitz Bazawule’s film tells you of all the pleasures and horrors of being a woman

- Bhuvanesh Chandar

Critiquing cinema demands you experience it without any preconceiv­ed baggage; that you enter the hall as nothing more than a sponge that takes in everything before you make up your thoughts. That said, it is difficult to go in with a blank slate before watching The Color Purple.

Even if you haven’t read the books or watched the 1985 Steven Spielberg film, the promos are enough to tell you that it deals with sexual and domestic abuse endured by Black women in the early 1900s. The film revolves around Celie (Phylicia Pearl Mpasi) and her sister Nettie (Halle Bailey). We learn that Celie is being raped by their abusive father Alfonso (Deon Cole) and that her two babies have been unfairly snatched away from her and “given to God.” Soon enough, Celie is forcibly married off to Mister (a wonderful Colman Domingo), a farmer and father of three. And when Alfonso turns to Nettie, she too begins to live under Mister’s roof. However, hell breaks out when Mister forces himself on Nettie, and the latter is forced to flee away.

Celie’s emancipati­on, however, comes first in the form of Sofia, who marries Mister’s son Harpo (Corey Hawkins), and later through Shug Avery (Taraji P. Henson), a Blues singer and Mister’s romantic interest, who for years has piqued Celie’s curiosity as a photo on Mister’s nightstand.

What follows is an empowering spectacle that sees the three women band together to take control of their own and influence each other’s lives.

The leading women are written with nuanced strokes. Mister finds himself only a bleak and rushed arc, and it’s quite a gamble for the film to let us make our assumption­s about Mister’s father, Ol’ Mister Johnson (Louis Gossett Jr.), and what their relationsh­ip may have been like. But when you have such a powerhouse ensemble and evocative music, the little smudges quickly vanish.

Bazawule’s adaptation of the eponymous musical — which in turn is based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel — talks of all the beauty and horrors of being a woman in this world, entices you with its captivatin­g storytelli­ng, but then pushes you back into reality with a dagger through the heart.

The Color Purple is currently running in theatres

 ?? AP ?? Taraji P. Henson, from left, Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks in a scene from The Color Purple.
AP Taraji P. Henson, from left, Fantasia Barrino and Danielle Brooks in a scene from The Color Purple.

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