Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews
 

 

HONEST CHEESE

 

picture - Not Easily BrokenFilm Review

by Kevin Bowen

published January 9, 2009

 

Not Easily Broken

rated PG-13

now playing nationwide

 

If there is one trend in the box office lately that has gone virtually unnoticed, it’s the quiet rise of the inspirational movie.

 

This trend turned Tyler Perry into the least talked about box office star in America. It has most recently been seen in the word-of-mouth success of Fireproof, a firefighter film that has no buzz, no stars (unless you love Growing Pains enough to count Kirk Cameron), and unexpectedly okay box office.

 

So perhaps it isn’t a surprise to see spiritual adviser/multimedia superstar T.D. Jakes enter this field. Not Easily Broken, his second foray into film, has him wearing hats as producer, co-writer, author of the source material, and an onscreen presence.

 

Directed by Bill Duke, Not Easily Broken is a melodrama, targeted toward black audiences, that details a quietly fizzling marriage between David (a pleasant Morris Chestnut), a former baseball player sidelined by injury, and his perky, fussy realtor wife (Taraji P. Henson). He wants a family. She wants a nice career and lifestyle. For fun, he plays basketball with the boys and coaches a kids baseball team. For fun, she …. hassles everyone. When she injures herself in an auto accident, he takes a friendly interest in her physical therapist and her child. This doesn’t sit well with her suspicious mother.

 

Say what you will about his filmmaking knowledge, but Jakes knows marriage and the accompanying male expectations. He wouldn’t be in the business he’s in if he didn’t. Yet advising millions of people is about dealing in generalities. The best art is about finding specifics. These aims are at cross-purposes.

 

Any film with more than one emergency room visit must be considered a cheesy melodrama. Somehow Not Easily Broken manages to be cheesy and emotionally honest at the same time. I think it does pretty well in achieving “direct tenderness,” the key trait of melodrama as identified by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Actually, it might be very interesting to see what Fassbinder would do with the same story, rife as it is with implications of class, race, and love. But this isn’t that film.

 

kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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