Review: The Color Purple
A Bold New Take On The Beloved Classic
This is a quick review of the newly released film The Color Purple. Keep in mind this is but one of the many movies I watch every year, and that whatever initial grade I come up for this film could change for better or worse with time. To better keep up to date with both my thoughts on other movies and if my feelings on this film changed, follow me on Letterboxd.
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Via Letterboxd: A decades-spanning tale of love and resilience and of one woman’s journey to independence. Celie faces many hardships in her life, but ultimately finds extraordinary strength and hope in the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood.
The live action movie musical remains one of my all-time favorite kind of films. My Fair Lady is perhaps my all-time favorite Best Picture winner, Singing In The Rain is one of my all-timers period, On The Town and Guys And Dolls always bring a smile to my face, and Chicago is one of the more fun films from the early 2000s.
Unfortunately I’ve felt like I’ve had to battle for scraps when it comes to the modern live action movie musical. La La Land is great but I wasn’t championing it as one of my favorites from the year necessarily (Was on team Moonlight). 2021’s version of West Side Story is incredibly well directed and performed but I have many issues with the source material and Latino representation in it just as I did with the 1962 version.
But there are some that stand out. Specifically In The Heights which is my favorite film from 2021 and one of my all-time favorite films period. These last two years though nothing has stood out for me though. Granted I really enjoyed last year’s Spirited but it was missing a little something for me to put it in A-tier territory. My recent review of Wonka was just published last week and as much as I enjoyed it, it too was missing something.
Enter the musical adaptation of The Color Purple. Finally a musical that set me alight like In The Heights did two years back. The soundtrack is like coming to church and listening to soulful gospel music. The dance numbers make me feel like I’m watching a Broadway production and/or take me back to the way musicals were done back in the fifties. The cinematography is gorgeous; and the messages of sisterhood, community, and redemption spoke to me in different ways.
All this is only heightened by a powerhouse ensemble lead by Fantasia Barrino who is going to be in my personal ballot for Actress. Alongside her are Danielle Brooks who deserves the Oscar in my estimation, and Taraji P. Henson who deserves her flowers as well. Colman Domingo and Corey Hawkins are nomination worthy in my opinion in their supporting roles. This might just be my personal winner for ensemble of the year and hopefully SAG will agree.
If you loved the 1985 film this might not hit certain dramatic highs for you as there are more moments of comedic relief in this; as a musical that deals with heavy themes like domestic abuse it’ll still have the audience smiling, laughing, and crying.
As I write this The Color Purple is fighting to get a Best Picture nomination from the Academy after getting a nod from The CCA Awards and The HCA Awards. I say it will look like a blight against them if they don’t include this among their choice of the ten best films of the year. I give it a solid and rare A+ initial grade from me. This is easily one of my absolute favorites from the year and well-worth a trip to the theatres to go see come Christmas day.