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“Mea Culpa” is … Something

I enjoyed some of Tyler Perry's early films, until I noticed a troubling pattern to his work. He’s not my cup of tea, but I do like Kelly Rowland and Trevante Rhodes, so I turned on “Mea Culpa,” Perry’s “erotic thriller” that is neither erotic nor thrilling. Here’s a minute-by-minute countdown of catastrophe/mediocrity/yuck) to look for as the movie unfolds.    


Serious spoilers ahead. 

(01:17) We’re only a minute in and, of course, it’s about a successful Black woman being punished for wanting her light-skinned husband to be honest, accountable, and less of a mama’s boy.  


(3:41) Rowland (Mea) is so pretty. 


(5:23) Her husband, Kal (Sean Sagar), is spineless. No idea how he manages to walk upright. 


(6:47) The dialogue is banal. There’s no finesse in the quick explanation about the painter and the prosecutor owning two paintings. Everything is explicitly exposition and nothing more. Perry still hasn’t learned how to “show, not tell.” 


(7:22) Shannon Thornton in her role as "Charlise” is also STUNNING! (Another up-side!) 


(7:26) Kal’s mom—her name isn’t important—can’t die quick enough. 


(10:37) I immediately don’t like Zyair. I can’t tell if Rhodes is the reason. I’ve seen him work competently in other films, but his performance here is bizarre.  


(14:29) Kal, the husband, has no job but tells Mea she can’t take the case. Perry never turns down a chance to humble a Black woman, even when the man is wrong. 


(15:00) Kal is a disgraced anesthesiologist who went to work high and drunk?!  Mea is supporting them both and covering his lie to his family?!  I guess, girl. 


This movie wants to be “Unfaithful” so bad. 


(21:01) How can blood seep all the way down into the apartment below? I’ve watched enough “Forensic Files” to know blood can be trapped in floorboards and pool on the subfloor below, but through floorboards, subfloor, and drywall, to become visible in an apartment below? Blood coagulates. 


(21:35) Nothing about the initial meeting between Zyair and Mea tells us this is a good case to take. It looks like a loser. 


(24:01) Everyone is trying to act so hard like their dialogue is good.  


(28:49) I am always glad to see RonReaco Lee (Jimmy) show up in things. His appearance immediately brought levity and believability, but he can only do so much. 


(32:48) There’s nothing about Zyair that screams even the possibility that he is innocent—another missed opportunity for Perry to prove he can write anything moderately well.  


(34:06) One of the most intriguing aspects of erotic thrillers, especially ones that focus on the question of whether a main character murdered someone, is trying to figure out if they did it“Indecent Proposal” is not a great movie, but wondering if Sharon Stone’s character killed her lover is intriguing. There’s no wondering about Zyair because nothing about his personality leads the audience to doubt he did. 


(37:44) Trevante is playing his role so vacantly. There’s nothing personality wise about his character that can explain why Mea finds him intriguing. Pretty to look at, but just ashes in the wind for a personality. 


(54:27) Zyair’s declaration of love is weird and stilted. Bro, you don’t know her! No one is swept away by you. You aren’t charismatic, and nothing about you makes the audience suspend their common sense long enough to be entranced or enticed, which is why I don’t buy Mea’s attraction. 


(59:50) There’s this thing that people do in media that paints people who are into kink as all-around amoral—prone to things like murder and such—and it’s boring. If you’ve ever talked to kinky people, there’s a lot of emphasis on communication, what to expect, boundaries, sexual knowledge, and consent. Step into 2024, Perry. 


(1:05:09) Did Jimmy have Kal under surveillance? How’d he know about Kal being with Jenna? Why’d he send that problematic image to Mea without knowing why they were there? He shouldn’t be that messy as a private investigator.  


(1:06:25) Zyair didn’t clean his penis off before he and Mea started in on each other. The only other movie I’ve seen that happen was Barbara Streisand’s version of “A Star is Born.” You know how down bad you have to be to see a man having sex with someone else to not ask him to wash off before you climb on? Again, nothing that’s occurred between Zyair and Mea would indicate that she is down bad. Not even that mess behind her husband. 


(1:09:32) The sex scene … They are both very pretty to look at and the gold paint is lovely. But Kelly and Trevante have no chemistry with each other.  


(1:23:18) This convo between Mea and the art director is weird. The plot needed someone to reveal Zyair’s modus operandi, but would have been more meaningful if [redacted] told her about what happened when she was with him. The second act should have been about Mea finding out something shifty was afoot and trying to uncover it. 


You can tell Perry doesn’t talk to professionals before or during the writing process. I haven’t seen Mea act like an actual lawyer who knows the law most of this movie.) 


(1:24:55) The peeling back of all the paintings is hysterical!  


(1:27:24) Mea, why would you keep entering a place where the only way out is if the owner lets you out? Especially when the owner is accused of murder? 


(1:28:08) I don’t buy these brothers with this white mama both marrying Black women. 


(1:34:02) Spoiler Alert! If I am a lawyer and I discover a woman who was supposed to be dead wasn’t dead, why would I leave her and just go home, especially if her being alive flips my case?  


(1:34:30) Nothing about this movie makes sense. Knowing that the Latin term Mea Culpa means “my fault,” how is any of this truly Mea’s fault?  


(1:38:44) There is nothing throughout this movie that would indicate that the “family” has the kind of influence, power, or smarts to create—let alone pull off—this kind of conspiracy.  


I could spoil the ending, but there’s nothing worth spoiling about the last 15 minutes. If you’ve already made it this far, you’ve earned it.  

1 comentário

12 de mar.

I have no interest in seeing this movie especially after reading your review. Your commentary is a far better script. Loved it! Thank you!

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