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Nappily Ever After: A Movie Review

So over the weekend, I finally had the chance to watch Nappily Ever After starring Sanaa Lathan. You know, that Netflix movie about the woman who shaves her head and basically looses her shit—yeah, that one. The film is based on the book of the same name by Trisha R. Thomas. Throughout the film we watch as a woman who seemingly has her life together, breaks down, and is put back together piece by piece. As we all would have hoped, the movie is chock full of rom-com moments, but did Haiffa al-Mansour (director) nail the life of a naturalista on the brink of a come up? Keep reading to find out!

But first, if you’d like a male perspective on the subject matter, make sure you check out the video below. Babe and I did a little couples debate on some of the most memorable moments from the movie!

If you’d rather read, then just skip right over this section!

To be honest, this movie was nothing I wasn’t already expecting. It didn’t make it bad but as far as “dope movies” go, I wasn’t super impressed. I’ll break down the biggest factors that went into my review and why I think Nappily Ever After could have been done a bit better.

Plot Line

The main character Violet, is portrayed to have this seamless life where she is “on” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Unfortunately for her, she quickly realizes being perfect is unsustainable and quickly looses her seemingly-super-eligible boyfriend, marketing career, and her mind.

If this movie were a basic-ass rom-com, I think it would have been pretty good. But I still thought some things just felt weird and off. For example, Violet’s father (portrayed by Ernie Hudson) had just entered a modeling career. Whyyyy?

So overall the plot line is good. But I didn’t think it was great.

Themes

I’m no cinema-wiz but I was able to easily pick out 3 cinematic themes. Let me know in the comments if you can pick out more!

Woman v. Hair 

Ah, all of us have gone through this in the natural hair journey at some point or another. Straight, European hair is the social norm—it’s what’s most accepted. Think about it. Curly hair is still considered “unprofessional” in the work setting in 2018. WHY?!?

So, in Nappily Ever After, Violet obviously has severe attachments to her hair stemming from a young age. After a cruel prank at the salon, Violet is forced to slowly but surely find alternatives to her naturally pressed strands to a point in which she ends up basically bald. Unless you want to be bald, I can definitely understand how it could be traumatic to one day not have all of your hair.

Good Hair v. Bad Hair

This one’s pretty obvious but I thought they could have made it more apparent. Most of us struggle with ‘how can I get good hair’ when we’re told ‘you have bad hair’ all our lives. We’re conditioned to think only one type of hair is good and that’s just fake news.

All healthy hair is good hair.

I felt like the idea of having healthy natural hair was really only dealt with a little girl named Zoe, portrayed by Daria Jones. It seemed like overall, Violet knew her hair was good, she just wanted to length. The struggle for us as Black women, between good and bad hair is much more difficult than what was actually portrayed. And for that, I wasn’t a fan. Violet struggled over her man THE ENTIRE MOVIE!

Triumph Over Adversity

At the end of the day, Violet has a major obstacle to overcome. I won’t ruin it for ya, but the film does leave you with the warm and fuzzies!

nappily ever after
Nappily Ever After

Acting

All around, the film is full of dope actors and actresses. As I mentioned above Sanaa Lathan stars alongside Lynn Whittfield (the mother), Ernie Hudson (the father), and Ricky Whittle (the boyfriend), Honestly, I have nothing negative to report here lol.

Tone

The tone was definitely a lot more light-hearted than I thought it would have been. I’m guessing that’s more than likely because of the rom-com genre running throughout the storyline. It does make for a movie you can casually watch at any time but it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

I just thought it would have been a little darker. When you go through that phase in your journey when you realize the only bad hair out there is unhealthy hair, it’s like you’re coming out from the shade into the light. The world (of hair) becomes a lot bigger and I’m not so sure the director captured that darkness in the way we experience it. Maybe that’s because the director, herself, never went through that experience—who knows?

Cinematography

Just like the acting, the cinematography was very well done. The color usage was light and airy and the scoring (music) was on point. Al-Mansour used cartoon transitions to differentiate the moments in Violet’s life and I thought that was a cute and artsy additive. Otherwise, just like the acting, I have no complaints!

Final Thoughts

In the end, I thought the movie portrayed moments every black woman goes through so kudos to Ms. al-Mansour. But I can’t help wonder if the storyline could have dug a little deeper. I can’t help wonder what if this movie was more about pursuing healthy hair than a love life. Eh, maybe I should read the book to find out!

If you’re thinking of transitioning or returning to natural, check out these articles:

What did you think of Nappily Ever After? Let me know in the comment section below!

Until next time, stay blessed & unstressed!

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