“If I had a chance to rename the movie, I would have named it Saved”- Ella Joyce
This weekend in theaters, film and theater mogul Tyler Perry will release his latest work entitled “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.” The film stars Lance Gross (Brice), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Judith), Kim Kardashian (Ava), Vanessa Williams (Janice), Robbie Jones (Harley), Brandy Norwood (Melinda), Ella Joyce (Sarah) and Renee Taylor (Ms. Waco Chapman).
“Temptation” surrounds the love and betrayal of a couple that were under the protection of innocence and truth until one spouse’s need for attention spirals their bond into a hurricane of deception. The film is based upon Perry’s stage play “The Marriage Counselor.”
Judith and Brice were friends from childhood. Raised in a protective spiritual household, Judith understood the world from the pages of her mother’s Bible. It was almost as if she and Brice were brought together through an arranged marriage, except their bond was a simple common crush as children that bloomed into a mature, responsible love. But along with that responsibility came monotony, regret and discontent for Judith.
As with so many married couples in today’s society, the vows and covenant will be tested, usually at a moment when one or both spouses are at their most vulnerable point. Cue the story of Judith and Brice. Enter Harley – a successful self-made billionaire with a thirst for anything that he doesn’t own from jump. This time his mission of divide and conquer involves another man’s wife.
In “Temptation,” Tyler Perry uses the love story between Judith and Brice and the survival of a town stranger named Melinda (Brandy Norwood) to illustrate a woman’s struggle with her fleshly desires and her better judgment. Both overlapping storylines in the film expose the consequences of making a wrong turn at critical decision boulevard. Sometimes there’s no going back.
So Help You God
On Sunday, May 24, 2013, Perry was gathered with the cast for a press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. The small room was filled with reporters who were unexpectedly taken to Sunday service through the praises of Ella Joyce. Joyce’s character (Sarah) was Judith’s God-fearing mother who did everything in her power to shield her daughter from the ways of the enemy. As Sarah could no longer watch her daughter deteriorate from sin, she removed herself from the destruction and downfall of the child she once knew.
Joyce took her moment to deliver a soliloquy on the state of black Hollywood in an effort to thank Tyler Perry for keeping the black actors employed and in positive roles on film. Her comments received a round of clapping from the media.
To Have and to Hold
“This was very deep. I dealt with this from my past that I ‘kinda’ tucked away.” – Lance Gross
The character of Brice (Lance Gross) was that of a model husband whose mission was to be a family man. Like many imperfect men, however, he unnoticeably began to take his wife for granted. One more missed birthday. A lackluster sex life that, (until it was so abruptly pointed out by his wife’s lover), was the couple’s normal routine. Brice’s complacency became Harley’s (Robbie Jones) tool of destruction for their happy home.
The role of Brice was refreshing to see in black film. His clean-cut, straight-laced persona will be a welcomed site for black audiences. Gross, as usual, was fit and fine for the part (as was Robbie Jones). It’s amazing how the camera fit all those muscles in one film.
Now..back to the film.
During the press conference, the subject of Tyler Perry’s physical presence in the film was up for discussion. Perry often appears as himself in his more dramatic films, or as the loud-mouthed, gun-toting granny, Madea, in his comedy movies.
“The moment I sit down to write the characters, I see them. And if I don’t see myself as any of them, I’m not in it.” – Tyler Perry
Though Perry doesn’t appear in this film like the others, the common denominator is the same: there is a lesson to be learned. Simply put by Perry, “[this film is about] making the right choices” says Perry.
In Sickness and in Health
Brandy Norwood stars as Melinda, a young woman with a secret. Norwood was honest and believable through her role. She tapped from her own troubled past to bring the character of Melinda alive for the film. In 2006, Norwood was involved in a car accident that caused a fatality. In past interviews, the singer/actress explained her experience as life-changing. Norwood is now engaged to be married and is planning a wedding with fiancé’ Ryan Press, who was present at the press conference. Press received an eyeful from Brandy during Tyler Perry’s references to infidelity. Ok Ryan, Brandy’s got you on notice.
For Richer or Poorer
In her first full-on scripted acting debut with the Perry empire, reality TV star Kim Kardashian makes several appearances in Temptation. Kim stars as Ava, the pretentious, label-whoring co-worker that hounds Judith about her mammie-ish wardrobe and pitiful choice of footwear. Once Judith gives in to Ava’s urging, it’s the beginning of the end for the nice girl. Kardashian, is well, a Kardashian. Shouts-out to Kim for jumping off the reality screen and trying something new. Her appearance was prior KK-2.0 so she’s every bit the curvaceous, hot body that’s been photographed over a million times.
Lawfully Wedded Wife
Jurnee-Smollett-Bell was an excellent choice for the role of Judith. The actress who has ‘grown up at the movies’ was able to portray herself as a young teenager in love who transitions to a grown woman with big girl problems at a steady pace. Her naivety as a country hometown girl who knew nothing but her husband before she hit the big city was on point. As we watched her character transition to a lost soul looking for love in all the wrong faces, Smollett-Bell carefully revealed the likeness of real mistaken women who struggle with their own identities and needs everyday. She told a very real story in a very real way, “It was a real challenge to go there emotionally,” says Smollett-Bell.
‘Temptation’ will carry the viewer through a story of infidelity that leads to drug use, sexual deviance, heartache and pain, which ultimately results in a very real and likely consequence in this day and age. Perry uncovers the truth of many broken marriages today and the salvation that lies with redemption and forgiveness. But perhaps not in the way you may imagine.
“God has blessed me to represent hope for people.” -Tyler Perry
‘Temptation’ starts in theaters Friday, March 29, 2013.