Even with Netflix’s backing and a supposedly suspenseful premise, his latest movie is, once again, about a sad, downtrodden woman.
It’s odd that it’s 2020 and the writer-director Tyler Perry, someone who considers himself a progressive filmmaker, still makes movies that resemble the histrionic, “Lifetime: Television for Women” format of the ‘90s. While Perry has made fans primarily of black women and churchgoers, his persistent reliance on downtrodden female protagonists to point out issues of misogyny and infidelity undercuts the audience he aims to celebrate.
Even with the backing of Netflix and his own groundbreaking new production studio, the filmmaker’s latest, “Tyler Perry’s A Fall From Grace,” still doesn’t rise above that formula. Though the movie, which for all intents and purposes is a thriller, boasts unexpected character twists that turn some into villains, at its core is a black woman named Grace (Crystal Fox), who has routinely been emotionally used and abused by men. What’s worse, she’s resigned herself to that fate.
When we meet Grace, she’s handcuffed in a prison jumpsuit, sporting disheveled hair and a perpetual frown. She’s facing a life sentence for killing her husband, Shannon (Mehcad Brooks), with whom she had a whirlwind romance years after the bitter dissolution of her first marriage.
That’s where the so-called mystery comes in: Why did Grace kill Shannon, a man who restored her faith in love after heartbreak? Well, if you’ve seen any of the director’s other work, then you should be able to figure out, within moments of watching the flashbacks, that Shannon, with his ripped, tattooed body and perfect smile, is the kind of character that Perry will easily vilify.
In fact, much of the suspense that Perry tries to build can swiftly be dismantled through the clunky narrative. Supporting characters like Jasmine (Bresha Webb), Grace’s determined yet inexperienced lawyer, and Grace’s best friend, Sarah (Phylicia Rashad), are meant to heighten and complicate the plot, but even they’re written so thinly you can guess their story lines from the start (Jasmine’s never even concludes). Perry himself plays Jasmine’s one-dimensional brute of a boss. Ultimately, nothing is much of a surprise in a story that fails to untether itself from Perry’s longest lasting trope: the sad black woman.
Tyler Perry’s A Fall From Grace
Not rated. Running time: 1 hours 55 minutes.