Say what you will about Tyler Perry, but he is a busy guy. He started from nothing and has slowly built his own little empire with a loyal fan base. But the thing I love most about TP is his current expansion. Like any business it’s adapt or die. And Perry has expanded from the comedy he has perfected to new and different dramatic features. From acting to writing/directing and producing. From “Alex Cross” to “Temptation.” Tyler Perry is testing the waters and pushing his boundaries. I don’t see his success stopping any time soon.
Plot: Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) begins to question the happiness of her marriage when a handsome billionaire, Harley (Robbie Jones), enters her life. She is tempted to leave everything behind for a lustful exciting relationship that removes her from her comfort zone. However, one instinctual decision may have repercussions that could change her life.
Analysis: Ahh infidelity, one of my favorite narrative topics. It is the topic that drives everyone crazy. That uneasy feeling of the unknown. Never being completely certain if your spouse is being faithful. It drives us crazy. We are a species that needs to know everything. We need that closure. That certainty. That is why faith is becoming so difficult to accept in our society.
There have been some great films over time that have captured the amazing tension of infidelity. “Unfaithful” and “Closer” are two of my favorites, but the all time greatest is “Eyes Wide Shut.” I can’t even bring myself to watch “Eyes Wide Shut” again because it will literally drive me mad. Well, enough about previous movies lets get to “Temptation.”
“Temptation” falls just short of the average checkpoint on the grand spectrum. It was decently acted with sub-par writing. It was incredibly melodramatic at some points, but there was some good too. While it takes some time to get to the second act, once there the tension really takes off. Perry does a great job of emotionally attaching you to his characters.
What surprised me most was just when you think you have everything figured out (which you probably did), there is a very strange and substantial curveball thrown into the mix that escalates the situation. It was very well executed and something I haven’t really seen before in similar situations.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell was awesome as the lead and her non-verbal acting skills wowed me. Lance Gross, one of Tyler Perry’s regular comedic actors, showed some real acting chops and completely out acted his on-screen rival Robbie Jones. Kim Kardashian started off terrible but got slightly less terrible. Don’t get me wrong she was still bad, but MAYBE not the worst in the film. Maybe.
The religious symbolism in this film is hammered into your head from start to finish. You can take it as a good or bad thing. Surprisingly, it works though because the underlying theme of religious faith mirrors the focal theme of marital faithfulness.
From a technical standpoint there was really nothing that separated itself. The cinematography and lighting were average with the exception of one party scene that was lit with incredible color and strobe lights. The editing was nothing write home about. There were a lot of cross dissolves that help with the soap opera-ish montage feel.
The final thing that impressed me was ending. Without spoiling anything I won’t say much more, just that the ending was a very powerful tool that helped to reiterate the film’s message. It was bold, but so was the story.
Verdict: It wasn’t great, but I wasn’t checking my watch either. It was a below average movie with some very bright spots. Kudos for the original twist on a story that has been told before. With that said, it is far from a must see, unless you are getting brownie points for taking your girl on date night.