I just got back from seeing Acrimony or as I like to call it Tyler Perry Fails Black Women Again or Taraji P. Henson Deserves Better.
Before I get into the review, let me tell you about something that made me feel a little acrimony of my own. Anyone who’s seen a movie with me will tell you I like to sit as close to the middle of the row as I can. To me, the middle of the row, and preferably the exact middle of the theater, is the best seat in the house. I pretty much only go to theaters where you can choose your seat ahead of time. For Acrimony, I was able to snag a seat one away from the middle, so I was good.
During the previews, the man who works security for the theater came up to me and asked me if I would be willing to switch to a seat further from the middle so a couple could sit together. I quickly told him I would not be giving up the seat I paid for for a worse seat. Then he had the audacity to act like I was overreacting because he was “just asking me.” I was offended he even had the gall to ask and even more offended he thought I would give my seat up for a couple because I was by myself, as if they were more important than me. Next time, buy your tickets earlier so you can get two seats next to each other. The effect of your procrastination is not my problem. But I got a free movie pass out of it, which I’m going to use to see A Quiet Place. I hear it’s not worth movie theater money, so this man’s rudeness actually works out perfectly for me.
Now, on to the review. This movie could have been great, but Tyler Perry’s lack of writing skill wouldn’t let it. It’s such a shame because Taraji P. Henson put in an incredible performance. As I said earlier, she deserves so much better.
In the second scene in the movie, I refuse to call this a film, Taraji’s character, Melinda, discusses the stereotype of the “angry Black woman” with her therapist. She says how ridiculous it is that every time a Black woman gets mad, she’s a stereotype or emasculating. When this stereotype is acknowledged, I thought, Great! He’s letting us know he knows what we’re all thinking going into this movie and showing us how he’s going to dispel it. This is promising!
The therapist asks, “Do you think you’re entitled to be angry?” I thought this was a great question. It’s what I will ask myself every time I get angry in the future. Melinda responds by saying, “That’s like asking me if I think I’m entitled to be hungry.” Another well-written line. This is the last well-written line in the movie. An entire script and Perry gives us two great lines. What a waste. And to think, this person has his own film studio and is worth $600 million.
Melinda goes on to tell her therapist her ex-husband, Robert Gayle, who is perfectly played by Lyriq Bent, owes her. The therapist replies, “What do you think he owes you?” Melinda says, “Every breath in his body.”
The movie goes on to show why Robert owes Melinda. I’ll try to keep this short because it’s not that important to the review. Melinda meets Robert in college. He ends up tutoring her in history, which she seems to know next to nothing about. Despite Robert’s tutoring, Melinda gets an “F” on her history paper. This is my first problem with this movie. Why did Perry feel the need to portray Melinda as an idiot? Did he think it was necessary to make it more believable that Melinda would stay with Robert though he contributed absolutely nothing to the relationship? It wasn’t. Love makes a fool out of everyone at one time or another.
I truly believe there is a part of Tyler Perry that hates Black women. He couldn’t portray Black women in a positive light if you paid him.
Melinda’s mother dies while she’s in college and leaves Melinda her house and a $350,000 life insurance policy. Robert shows up at the funeral. Melinda gives him a ride home, Robert comforts her, they have sex, it was Melinda’s first time, and become a couple. Melinda tells Robert about the money and the house. He tells her he has invented a battery that charges itself and is going to make them rich one day. He sends letters and videos demonstrating how his prototype works to a company that buys ideas, builds the product and sells it. He manages to convince Melinda to buy him a car so he can get to a meeting with this company if they ever call him. Then she pays for his last year of college. Then he cheats on her with a woman named Diana.
When Melinda catches them in the act, she drives her Jeep into Robert’s trailer, knocking it over while he and Diana are still inside. As a result of the collision, Melinda has massive internal bleeding and ruptured ovaries, causing her to need a hysterectomy. She loses her ability to birth children before she’s even 21. Here, Perry seems to be punishing Melinda for her anger. What woman wouldn’t be angry if she caught her boyfriend cheating on her?
Robert comes to visit Melinda while she’s recuperating at home and gives her this old and very cliché line: “It didn’t mean anything to me. It was just sex. I love you.” The sad part is Melinda falls for it. Robert later proposes, the couple gets married and proceed to burn through the $350,000 Melinda’s mother left her. When the money runs out, Robert convinces Melinda to mortgage her mother’s house.
Everything I’ve just detailed takes up about half of the movie. So for half the movie I paid $17.20 to see, I was watching Ajiona Alexus, who portrayed the young Melinda, instead of Taraji P. Henson. Ajiona is fine as an actress, but I came to see, and paid to see, Taraji. My acrimony builds.
For 20 years, Robert never gets a job, he just works on his invention. In the meantime, Melinda works two jobs to support them. One day, all these years later, Robert runs into Diana, who is now an executive at the company he wants to license his invention to. She agrees to meet him for coffee and starts looking at his file when she gets to her office.
Meanwhile, when Melinda’s mother’s house is about to get foreclosed on, Robert starts working for the company Melinda’s sisters and brothers-in-law work at to get money to save the house. One day, Diana calls Robert to let him know she’s gotten him a meeting with the CEO. Robert drops what he’s doing and heads home to stop the garbage man from picking up his prototype and get ready for the meeting.
Little does he know (sorry, I tried to keep it short, but all of this is information you need to know for the point I’m going to make), Diana’s wallet fell out in his truck, Melinda’s sister found it and gave it to Melinda. As Robert is getting his prototype ready, Melinda comes in and confronts him about the wallet. He says he and Diana just had a business meeting and nothing happened, which is actually the truth. The two fight, but Robert still makes it to the meeting. The CEO offers him $800,000 to buy the invention outright. Robert declines because he wants to retain the rights to the invention and just license it to the company.
Robert comes home and tells Melinda he declined the offer. She is understandably upset because she thinks he’s cheated on her and declined money that could have saved her mother’s house. She puts him out and says she wants a divorce. Melinda eventually loses the house.
After a three-month stay in a men’s shelter, Robert moves in with Diana. She works on her boss some more and he offers Robert a $75 MILLION deal to work with him and Robert will get to retain ownership of his invention.
Now, up until this point, Melinda seems to have every right in the world to be angry. Her now ex-husband took everything from her he could and when he finally hits it big, he’s with another woman. I sympathized with Melinda: I’ve given countless time, energy and money to men in the past and never saw a return on any of those investments.
But Perry just cannot stand for anyone to sympathize with a Black woman, so one day Robert shows up at Melinda’s office. He gives her flowers, a check for a cool $10 MILLION and the keys and deed to her mother’s house. Robert gave Melinda what she deserved, what she earned. I would have taken that money and driven off into the sunset. I heard a woman say the same thing when the movie was over.
But that’s not what Melinda did. Instead, once she learned Robert had hit it big, she went to his penthouse apartment, the one he’d said he’d buy for Melinda and him once he made it. But Robert wasn’t alone, Diana, now Robert’s fiancée, was there.
Melinda runs out and loses it. Despite being a millionaire, Melinda obsesses over Robert and Diana’s relationship. She sends Diana angry messages on Twitter and watches the video of Robert showing Diana the yacht he bought her, the “Mrs. Gayle,” the same yacht he’d promised Melinda he’d buy her when they got rich. And just like that, Melinda is turned into an irrational, crazy, unjustifiably angry Black woman.
In therapy, Melinda’s therapist asks her if she’s ever heard of borderline personality disorder. She tries to explain what it is, but Melinda, predictably, says she’s not crazy and runs out. It’s highly possible Melinda does have borderline personality disorder and an exploration of Melinda dealing with this diagnosis could have added some substance to this movie. But I guess Perry thought just mentioning it was enough to imply Melinda has it and provide an explanation for her irrational behavior.
Had Perry shown Melinda getting treatment for her borderline personality disorder and letting go of her obsession with Robert and Diana, he could have let Melinda, and Taraji P. Henson, end this movie with dignity. Instead, after the most ridiculous ship-jumping scene you will ever see in your entire life and a brutal likely murder, she ends up dead. With this ending, Perry displays not only what a ludicrous writer he is, but that even if your anger is the result of a mental illness, if you’re a Black woman, you deserve to be punished for that anger. Melinda’s anger cost her her life.
I have to give it to Tyler Perry though. He tricked me. I thought I was going to see a decent film about the intricacies of rage. Instead, he gave me and the rest of the audience an unoriginal, too long, tawdry movie even Taraji P. Henson’s tour de force performance couldn’t save. Don’t let him fool you too.