For all Taraji P. Henson fans out there – and I'm a card-carrying, dues-paid-up member of the club – the bad news is that her latest feature, following on the heels of this year's hitwoman horror show Proud Mary, sucks this glorious actress down into more cinematic quicksand. Tyler Perry's Acrimony, presumably titled to set it apart from your acrimony or mine, is a female revenge saga packed with so much hysteria that it could set back the burgeoning #MeToo movement a beat or two. Showcasing Henson in this crass ripoff of Fatal Attraction is like shoving a comet in a shoebox. You can see Henson wants to fly. But she keeps getting her wings clipped.
Henson plays Melinda Gayle, a good woman done wrong by a male pig. He's Robert (a laser-eyed Lyriq Bent), a wolf in lamb's clothing who smooth talks Melinda out of her money and her pride. He's been doing it for so long that college-age versions of Melinda and Robert are trotted out in the persons of Ajiona Alexus and Antonio Madison. In the present, she's been sentenced to anger-management counseling for stalking him, and tried to kill Robert once by smashing her car into his camper (to be fair, he'd been screwing around). The worst part: This futile attempt only results in her sustaining injuries that will prevent her from getting pregnant.
Still with us? Melina is in a rage – we know because she tells us so in voiceovers that conjure up Henson's Cookie from Empire, but without the cheeky wit and inner strength. It seems that this lying, cheating bastard has been looting her inheritance to finance his invention, a self-charging battery. No one wants this innovation, until of course they do, and by then Melinda is divorced and Robert's new love, Diana (Crystle Stewart), is enjoying the fruits of his ex's seed money.
That’s the setup ... and the lack of energy and surprise Perry brings to the party slows down the pacing to crawl. You keep wishing this was one of his Medea comedies, so everything wouldn't move like a turtles-on-quaaludes race. Henson is no stranger to Perry dramatics, having starred in I Can Do Bad All By Myself and The Family That Preys. She does everything she can, from throwing tantrums to exploding in violence, to energize a script that just won't keep a charge. "Every time a black woman gets mad she's a stereotype," Melinda protests. Point taken.
Sadly, stereotypes are
this film’s stock in trade. Is Melinda a victim or a warrior or just batshit
crazy? The movie can't or won’t decide. Taraji
will rise again, she always does. But enduing a full 120 minutes of this shitstorm takes its toll. Bitterness, anger, malice, bad blood – that’s
acrimony, baby. And that's what you'll feel if you blow the price of ticket on
this hack job.