Acrimony is Taraji P. Henson’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It’s not nonstop rage, so I don’t want to mislead you there, but you get to see the rage smolder in her. When she does unleash it in the back half, it is magnificent.
Melinda (Taraji P. Henson) is forced to see a psychiatrist after Robert (Lyriq Bent) takes out a restraining order against her. Melinda tells the therapist the story of how she supported Robert through college and 18 years of pitching his invention until Robert bled her dry.
For about half the movie, you assume Melinda is right. Robert is a total loser. He’s spent 18 years pitching one company his invention and never working a day job. Not even multiple companies, just one. I actually respected the depiction of a total fuck up, how relentless and delusional people like Robert are.
Then you realize Tyler Perry is actually on Robert’s side. He thinks Melinda should have just believed in Robert and stood by this deadbeat and then she’d be rewarded for her support. This is dangerous.
In real life, nobody suddenly has success after 18 years of no progress. I’m not talking about struggle. Struggle pays off, when you cast a wide net pitching multiple outlets, and work small jobs along the way to support your dream. This isn’t even Tyler Perry’s story. He didn’t spend 18 years doing nothing. He put on plays and built a following and supported himself with theater.
So when Melinda really gets mad, the message is that anger destroys her and you shouldn’t descend into anger. Now, there is truth to that. The best revenge on someone is being successful without them, and you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. This is a movie though. In this movie Melinda is totally right to lash out at Robert. There’s a point where he supposedly makes amends, and they are outrageous amends, but to me if foreclosure was ever involved in their relationship, there are no amends to make up for enduring that. Anger literally destroys Melinda’s body at one point. That’s a bit on the nose but hey, this is drama.
I assumed Melinda never cared about the material dreams Robert promised. Like a normal person, I assumed all she wanted was a partner who’d do his share of the work and support her as much as she supports him. No, she really is jealous AF so I don’t support that, but I do support watching Melinda spiral into rage. Her Facebook handle alone is worth the price of admission. So is the way she holds on the ch in “bitchhhhh” and emphasizes both syllables in “bullshit.” Her opening to the therapist is basically a single take monologue by Henson.
Acrimony has all the magnificent awkwardness we’ve come to love in Tyler Perry movies. Perry opens the movie with the definition of acrimony, and several other words throughout the story. One of the synonyms for acrimony is spleen. So I learned something from Acrimony.
Apparently they could not get permits to film outdoors in Pittsburgh because every shot where they’re walking through the city is on green screen. They’re taking tiny steps because they don’t really have a whole riverside sidewalk to walk down. The entire movie is dim and gray, like really low light and hard to see.
A huge plot point involves Diana (Crystle Stewart) leaving her wallet in Robert’s truck. We never see her go to Robert’s truck. There’s no reason for her to have ever gone to Robert’s truck. At that point Diana has told him she can’t see him for business and they don’t speak again until she calls him. Even if they’ve omitted a scene, they would’ve met for coffee or lunch, not a ride in his truck. Yet they both agree that she was in his truck and left her entire wallet (and hasn’t realized for days she’s without her driver’s license, credit cards, etc.)
There’s a table flipping scene that’s only surpassed by young Melinda (Ajiona Alexus) taking out her anger on young Robert (Antonio Madison)’s trailer. Robert’s signature on legal documents is just Robert. His last name is Gayle. I did not see him write Gayle after his first name. When Melinda talks about another lover, she claims he “was just okay in bed.” “A lowlife maggot of a motherfucker” is another great quote about Robert. At one point Melinda leaves the therapist’s office but continues narrating the movie.
Tyler Perry has a new franchise that could be as lucrative as Madea. Like Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, it’s the genre that looks like it’s going to be a female empowerment story but actually punishes the woman. As long as you have perspective, this is profound insight into the way some people don’t understand how the world works.