Tyler Perry's Acrimony (R)

Drama 120 min. March 30, 2018
By Odie Henderson
Tyler Perry’s Acrimony used to be called She’s Living My Life, but it may as well have been called Diary of a Mad Black Woman. In fact, many of Perry’s earlier film titles could have served this, his first thriller, from Why Did I Get Married? to I Can Do Bad All By Myself. That last film, one of Perry’s better efforts, also starred Taraji P. Henson in a dramatic role. Henson is one of Perry’s most interesting muses; he capitalizes on that feistiness of hers that’s both warm and a warning.

Many fine actresses of color have given their all for Tyler Perry. They trust him. The problem is that Perry consistently lets them down. His scripts are lazily written morality plays that abruptly shift tone from comedy to tragedy. His direction is still distinguished by staging and pacing problems. Acrimony is better than most Perry films but no creative breakthrough. Cut out 30 minutes, and this might have been a lean ‘80s-thriller throwback with a killer lead performance.

Most of the audience I saw this with were on the side of Henson’s character, Melinda, whose marriage to a dreamer named Robert (Lyriq Bent) ends just before he hits it big with the rechargeable battery he spent 20 years inventing. Perry stacks the deck for Melinda, both on the soundtrack, where Henson narrates with profanity-filled lines tailored to generate maximum audience response, and in the plot, where she suffers one transgression after another. Under normal Tyler Perry circumstances, this is when Madea would show up to pistol-whip some sense into all parties. But the avenging angel in Acrimony is Melinda, and she makes Madea look like Gandhi. (Odie Henderson)
Tyler Perry Taraji P. Henson, Lyriq Bent Tyler Perry Lionsgate

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