The Color Purple (2023) Movie Review – Hasty execution but still has heart

Hasty execution but still has heart

Alice Walker’s iconic novel, The Color Purple has once again been remade into a film and we are not complaining. This time, The Color Purple (2023) is a musical that has been directed by Blitz Bazawule and is based on the Broadway version of this classic story.

Released globally in December 2023, it has an equally starry cast as the Spielberg version with names such as Taraji P. Henson, Colman Domingo, Danielle Brooks, Corey Hawkins, Halle Bailey, Ciara, Jon Batiste and H.E.R. The best part is that Whoopi Goldberg, the OG Celie does a cameo while the 2023 musical’s lead actress, Fantasia also happens to be Celie in the very same Broadway play it has been adapted from.

Well, on to the story – set over the span of the first half of the 20th Century in Georgia, it follows the meek Celie who goes from living with her abusive father to her abusive husband, Mister Johnson. The only silver lining is the knowledge that her children are alive somewhere and the hope of getting a sign that her sister, Nettie is alive after they are brutally separated from one another.

But things start looking up when Celie befriends her daughter-in-law, the loud and fierce Sofia and Mister’s mistress, the confident and brazen singer, Shug Avery. It turns into an ensemble story as The Color Purple also starts focusing on the hardships, racial tension and misogyny that these women face and how they prevail with support from each other. 

The movie has a heavy and gut-wrenching message which sheds light on the harsh reality of Black women, especially in the South in the 1900s. But it finds just the right balance with the music and the solidarity and friendship of the lead characters.

The Color Purple has energetic and head-bopping songs that also work as context and exposition for the story. A combination of soulful blues, even anthems and pop songs makes it appealing to different viewers. These songs also highlight the fierce spirit and resilience of the female characters, and how despite the lot they have been given, they still keep moving. 

Every element tells a story, even the barren land and the windy and sparse setting of Georgia. The costume and makeup highlight the beauty yet their status in the world. Shug Avery’s colourful persona arrives like a storm, a downpour for the locals and a rainbow in Celie’s drab life. Sofia is especially an inspirational character; though it seems that she will break after her character hurdle, it doesn’t seem to be the case. She also brings some much-needed comic relief.

The female characters are so real, so complex that it has us conflicted. There are important moments such as Celie letting the internalised misogyny get the better of her or Shug Avery continuing her affair after befriending Celie. Shug Avery also happens to be strong in a way different from Sofia, she is calculative and bides her time while Sofia is too rash. 

If we have one gripe, The Color Purple has not been adapted well for the screen, it sticks to the limits of the stage which can easily be overcome on a cinematic level. It is a bit too quick-paced, the men are all one-dimensional characters with a hasty and convenient redemption arc. It doesn’t fully flesh out Harpo or even Mister’s character when he has the most potential. 

That being said, The Color Purple (2023) delivers a heartfelt rendition, intertwining powerful performances with soulful music that adds depth to the narrative. The complexity and authenticity of the female characters make it a worthwhile watch.

Read More: The Color Purple Ending Explained

Feel free to check out more of our movie reviews here!

  • Verdict - 7.5/10

Leave a comment