Tyler Perry's adaptation of Ntozake Shange's 1975 stage play is excruciatingly misconceived and, at two hours and 10 mins, seemingly interminable.
Whatever its reputation as a landmark text for African-American women, this ensemble drama makes the mistake of fusing "poetic" language to a realistic narrative. Thus, in the midst of the melodramatic fireworks – all pitched at the same earsplitting volume – an actor will break off to deliver a personal monologue ("the holiness of myself released" etc), while everything around them pauses. The issues of these women essentially revolve around the awfulness of men, who are nothing but philanderers, bullies, murderers or rapists – though Janet Jackson as a control-freak magazine editor and Whoopi Goldberg as a religious-nutter matriarch are no great credit to the distaff, either. Nobody will be surprised that it ends in an eight-strong group hug. It is simply wrongheaded about artistic form: if your priority is to air an issue or a grievance at the cost of everything else – nuance, wit, plausibility – put it in a pamphlet. For God's sake, don't make a movie.