Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
Directed by: Darren Grant
Premise: Helen (Kimberly Elise), a woman married to a high profile lawyer (Steve Harris), has to start her life over when he kicks her out of the house for another woman.
What Works: The first act of the film does a nice job of setting the stakes high for Helen as she tries to move on with her life. There is a lot of humor that works well, particularly by Tyler Perry, who plays several characters. The acting is good all around, notably by Kimberly Elise and Steve Harris, who bring strong emotional dynamics to the story.
What Doesn’t: The film really lacks drama after Helen meets Orlando (Shemar Moore), her new lover. The two predictably fall in love but all through their courtship there is little dramatic contrast. The structure of the second act is so weak that the third act is never able to recover from it. Helen’s movement back and forth between her two men is erratic and does not make much sense. The conclusion feels really forced and is way too sentimental. The editing in the picture is not very good, with a lot of harsh, jarring cuts and noticeably bad looping during a musical sequence in a church.
Bottom Line: The problem of Diary of a Mad Black Woman is that the film is not mad enough. The picture is about letting go and moving on, but the story does not allow Helen to get mad enough so that her recovery will feel significant.
Episode: #42 (March 6, 2005)