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Review: Tyler Perry misses his mark with 'Acrimony'

Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 5:02 PM Central
Last updated Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 5:03 PM Central

by John Couture

Allow me to throw out some synonyms for Acrimony that I gathered up from Dictionary.com. Bitterness, animosity, spitefulness. Yep, that pretty much sums up the film.

Sadly, these words will probably also explain your reaction after watching Tyler Perry's latest dramatic effort Acrimony. But let's not put the cart in front of the horse as they say.

Taraji P. Henson stars as a faithful wife who learns that her husband of nearly 20 years has been cheating on her and that sort of sets her off. This devious behavior leaves her feeling betrayed and she acts out to get revenge on him and his new love interest.

The main problem that I had with the film is that while Taraji P. Henson is clearly the star of the film, by the end of it, you're not quite sure who you should be cheering for. It's almost like Tyler Perry was tapping some deep semi-biographical angst of a past scorned lover in his life and getting his just desserts on the big screen.

That's not to say that Taraji P. Henson is anything less than stellar because she is basically the only reason to see this film. While I do think that she is underserved by a shoddy script, her performance is one that will make you wonder if she truly does have a firm grip on sanity.

For instance, smoking is something that has become increasingly taboo in today's mainstream films, but Taraji's cigarettes are more than a simple plot device. They are a crutch that allows her to maintain a semblance of reasonable sanity as she perceives her world crashing down around her. Much like the noir films of yesteryear, the smoky indulgence adds a layer to the film that elicits a strong emotional reaction from the audience.

After Taraji P. Henson the rest of the cast could be faceless mannequins for how little they offer to the film. It's partly due to Taraji's suffocating on-screen glow and their own acting inexperience. I haven't seen the cast in many other films, which is both good and bad. While it really hones the audience's focus on Taraji, the film might have been better served with a more well-known actor as Robert, her ex. I'm thinking Denzel Washington would have really chewed up the scenery opposite Taraji in many of the emotional scenes.

Instead, Taraji is able to basically exert her dominance in pretty much every scene which is great for her personally, but at some point, it diminishes the overall film. Of course, a lot of that blame comes back to Tyler Perry.

Tyler Perry is someone that I just can't seem to decide if I like him or not. I'm loved some of his acting roles, both the Madea comedies and the more dramatic stuff and hated others. I've enjoyed some of the dramatic films that he's directed, but others have fallen flat for me. I think his success with Madea has given him a bit of a carte blanche at times and his filmmaking suffers as a result.

If he had a producer that would rein him in at times, then I think all of his films would be better off. That said, Tyler Perry makes Tyler Perry films and there is no denying that he has a rather robust fan club. More often than not, I can't decide if I want to join.

For me, Acrimony falls short on several fronts. If you want to watch a better film, check out Fatal Attraction or The War of the Roses as they both delve into similar territories with greater results. Of course, if you are in the Tyler Perry fan club, then, by all means, check it out. Taraji P. Henson's performance alone will make it worthwhile.