Woman Thou Art Loosed

Michael Schultz

BY Travis Mackenzie HooverPublished Mar 1, 2005

More like Woman, Thou Art Confused. This well-meaning but obvious problem picture plays more like a commercial for preacher/subject/source novelist Bishop T.D. Jakes than as an engagement for the issues it raises. Kimberly Elise stars as Michelle Jordan, a black death-row inmate conversing with the aforementioned Bishop about her shattered life, which had been marked by sexual abuse and drug addiction before parole landed her in his revival network. Flashbacks galore reveal her suffering at the hands of her mother's sick boyfriend, her subsequent descent into drugs and stripping, and her attempts to go clean on the periphery of that contemptuous mother (Loretta Devine). Quasi-Brecht-ian monologues from various players in her life fill in some more blanks. To be fair, the whole enterprise is respectful, non-exploitive and even nominally creative, seeming entirely sincere in its desire to give the Michelles of the world a cinematic presence. But its edges are soft enough to settle it into familiar confessional territory and tangle its many threads into a snarl of unexamined premises. I couldn't tell whether it decried or endorsed its final act of revenge, or believed in the possibility of its victim's redemption; I also found its constant reference to the Bishop on television a bit much, and the array of impossibly healthy congregants a little deck-stacking. If it serves its purpose as the wake-up call for the similarly afflicted, I guess that renders my criticisms void, but somehow, I wanted to see a less ingratiating Alan Clarke version that would explode with urgency instead of mouthing the same old self-help pieties. Offered in a flipper widescreen/full-screen version; no extras, not even a trailer. (Fox)

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