Just when I thought there were no good black movies out there and after a week of trudging along with the burden of the hullabaloo about how a woman should Think Like A Man to win his heart, I finally lifted up my eyes into the mountains, and lo and behold!
I was served this Manner – Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day, 2012!
You cannot imagine the respite. It was like a T.D. Jakes deliverance session. Ok, not all that, but at least, like balm, it soothed the putrid decadence I suffered from imagining women Think Like Men – a chauvinistic, machismo, bigoted and significantly stupid idea!
Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day offers something quite the opposite – sensible and tranquil; something more serene, and above all a narrative that empowers the black woman yet again to command her own life, build her family and strengthen her community. It drives home an important point that indeed the woman still is, like she has always been, the backbone of black culture and society, and hence deserves to be accorded the respect as such.
We are introduced to a woman who we have no idea has had a turbulent life but had completely turned a new leaf. She was born into the most degraded part of town – war torn with drugs, guns and prostitution. And of course she fell victim to all of those. But the power of Woman Thou Art Loosed is how she managed to turn it all around – loose all the baggage – and make a new life and build a new hope for herself, her daughter and her family, albeit the repeated flashbacks of her haunted past and the price she still had to pay for the wrongs she had done.
Kari Ames (Sharon Leal) is carefully navigating a new happy life, separate from her sour past, with a supportive husband in David Ames (Blair Underwood) to boot. This is how she knows best to protect herself and her family from her turbulent past – concealing it. But if anything at all it goes to show her resilience – that of a black woman – that no matter what, she will do anything to protect her family, her community and her loved ones even though she hadn’t yet mastered the courage to open up to them about her old life. However, the past always has its own way – it’ll come back to haunt our present. Kari’s closet is blown completely ajar when her daughter is kidnapped. The skeletons pace out in full glare and the family she has fought to build is thrown in disarray. Could it be one of her past Pimps? Her husband can no longer trust her and her daughter, perhaps in the hands of a serial killer on the loose who murders his victims on the Seventh Day?
Kari must find her daughter and she must repair the crack of distrust that has now torn her husband apart. Here’s where her character becomes commendable – she doesn’t whine and whimper about her past; nor will she allow anyone to scold her for her past mistakes. She marches forward, resolute in the conviction that she has turned the corner; she will find her daughter and she will pray that her husband finds the heart to forgive her.
Woman Thou Art Loosed is more loaded than I can expatiate. Nonetheless, on the Seventh Day Kari surmounts her challenges – with the help of a childhood friend she rescues Mikayla Ames (Zoe Carter) and finds the space in her heart to forgive a cheating husband whose fatal attraction to Beth Hutchins (Nicole Beharie) had actually led to the kidnapping.
This is the stuff movies aught to be made of – substance!
So pardon me, apparently, black women like Neema Barnette don’t have to Think Like A Black Man to make a good movie. They don’t need to think like a man to understand the complexity of black life, give it meaning and be successful at building black families and black communities.
Neema Barnette is a class act. And I really have to commend T.D. Jakes also for what he’s done here. Besides all his religious/humanistic contributions to black life and culture, he’s added yet another significant narrative to the representation of blackness on the screen.
I know the law book tooting folk and the trumpet blowing hip hop enthusiasts may find this film a little uncomfortable – a little heavy handed in religion – to fully grasp its true and sincere content, but I am sure that even the atheist can agree that Woman Thou Art Loosed is an entertaining black film.
The comedy is unforced, the story rooted in our collective experience with drugs, pimps, poverty, incarceration and guns. But it goes further and provides something cohesive, and insightful and a whole lot more hopeful about the state of the black family and the black community.
For a couple of years, the best black film I saw was Sanaa Hamri’s Just Wright. But I am not ready to recount the wonderful filmmakers I have found in the few black women around because I think it will overshadow the great work Neema Barnette has done here.
However I am utterly horrified by the low IMDB rating of Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day. I feel I have to address it for two reasons.
First, it shouldn’t matter if you are Christian or not, nor should it matter how T.D. Jakes whets your appetite. You simply cannot bash a fine film like this. It’s unfair to sit high on your pedestal of enlightenment and rate something you clearly do not understand – something that you think is diametrically opposed to your sense of renaissance.Second, it seems that we are constantly at war wrestling black culture from the now bottomless abyss of hip-hop’s cultural continuous decline. Black culture has come to be so measured; so applauded and only defined by the present state of the black entertainment industry that there’s barely anything left beyond it. Not even a simple lullaby exists in black culture anymore as they’ve been replaced with thousands of such Lil Wayne’s lyrics as ‘Lick Me Like A Lollipop.’
In light of this, it is easy to see why a movie like Think Like A Man would be hailed over a more constructive film like Woman Thou Art Loosed!
When your 9-year old niece cannot sing a single children’s song, except ‘Can I Get a Refill?’ and ‘Gucci This, Gucci That, Gucci Everything’ then you know something is terribly amiss. That’s why I feel one of the big steps T.D. Jakes has taken so far, to team up with veteran Neema Barnette to begin restoring and reintroducing some sanity and perhaps sanctity into black media culture is laudable.
So I would rather women think their own thoughts and maybe men think like women. My friends, maybe then the real change we need to see in black America will finally come. Neema Barnette is one of the few black women directors we have around and I am mighty glad that she directed this picture. She’s one of the renowned directors around whom our young filmmakers should learn from.
Because come what may and no matter what people say, there’s something unique to black cinema. There’s a cultural insight that these directors have of black life in this country that only a few non-black directors can possibly fathom emulating, if at all.
Writer: Cory Tynan
Stars: Blair Underwood, Sharon Leal and Nicole Beharie