Taraji P. Henson reunites with Tyler Perry for Acrimony
Lionsgate & Tyler Perry Studios present Tyler Perry's Acrimony, which reunites Taraji P. Henson with director Tyler Perry for the third time. The film opens up in a courtroom with Robert Gayle (Lyriq Bent) receiving a restraining order against his wife, Melinda Gayle (Taraji P. Henson).In addition to the restraining order, Melinda is also ordered to undergo therapy from the judge. From there, Melinda tells her story and how over time, her marriage to Robert became undone.
We flashback to eighteen years prior when college-age Melinda (Ajiona Alexus) & Robert (Antonio Madison) meet for the first time. Melinda is instantly smitten with Robert, and over time he earns her trust. During their courtship, Robert makes the mistake of cheating on Melinda, which unleashes her wrath and soils any hope that Melinda's family will ever accept him. The couple does get married, and while Melinda supports Roberts's dreams of selling a battery, she loses herself in the process. When we cut back to the adult Robert & Melinda, their marriage is clearly on thin ice, as they appear to be roommates as oppose to spouses.
The first act of the film is standard Perry fare. Robert is made out to be a bad guy while we root for Melinda. Sitting in the theater, all I could do was shake my head at some of the choices Robert made and question why Melinda stayed with him. As the first act of Acrimony goes on, I began to understand Robert's motivation more. When a man is chasing a dream, stubbornness can often get in the way, which happened in Robert's case. I also felt for Melinda, as she sacrificed more than she should have for her husband.
When the two do end up divorcing, due to a bad judgment call on Robert's part to continue his dream chasing, I felt for Robert. Still, I also understood why Melinda had to let him go. During the second half of the film, the film takes a complete turn, and Perry actually surprised me with the storytelling. The trailers for Acrimony led me to believe the movie would go one angle. Still, instead, Perry decides to take it somewhere different in a sense.
Without going into spoilers, I personally felt that it was a wise decision. The decisions that Robert decided to make regarding his future make sense, as does his decision regarding his relationship with Melinda. With the angle that Perry decides to take, I'm sure that it will have couples debating well after leaving the theater. I commend Perry for going against the norm and actually trying something different.
Henson & Bent both shine in their roles. As a married couple, both show the signs of a couple who has lost their way. Henson can walk through a part like Melinda, in her sleep. Perry knows how to get the best out of Henson, whether she's portraying Melinda as scored, sexy or no-nonsense.
Bent is also suitable as Robert, and I hope he has a chance to get more leading roles in the future. Robert's arc from unfocused young adult to man child to working man is commendable. Bent portrays all three angles well, and I hope to see more of him in the future.
The rest of the cast is pretty much on autopilot since the film belongs to Henson & Bent.
I would've changed one or two things (including tightening the ending). I must admit that Acrimony, which is Perry's seventeenth film as a director, is one of his better ones.
Final Grade B+