While the message is clear and strong in Nappily Ever After, the story, by comparison, is a tad weak.
|Screenplay By||Adam Brooks, Cee Marcellus|
|Genre(s)||Romance, Drama, Comedy|
|The Hook(s)||A Black woman’s journey to accepting her hair|
A young Black girl’s relationship with her father and his struggle to compensate for the mother who abandoned her.
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Violet, a woman in her mid-30s, has always pursued a sense of perfection. It was something she inherited from her mother, Paulette’s, shame in some ways. At least when it comes to keeping her hair perfect. For, since one day in 1993 when Violet was 11, it was established that hair was a status symbol. Long straight, maybe a white girl curl, that was what is acceptable and with Violet working in marketing, that’s what she pitched.
However, after being marketed and sold the idea a certain look could get you everything, when her boyfriend of two years, Clint, doesn’t get her a ring but a dog, she loses it. First on him, with his feeling of being on a first date for two years comment, and then herself. Making it where she has to get back to her roots, see her true self and so she cuts all her hair off in a drunken moment and pursues finding that beauty her parents, or exes, never instilled in her. Yet, seeing this 10-year-old name Zoe have it, thanks to her dad Will, she not only believes it is possible but comes to know it for a fact.
What you have to appreciate is the message of the film being, whether you enjoy getting a weave, a perm, straightening your hair or having it be natural, your hair isn’t the summary of you. It’s part of you and something to have fun with. It shouldn’t be a symbol of your status, how well you take care of yourself or your parents take care of you. Something to be ashamed of just because it’s a certain curl or not a certain curl. And also, even if you are natural, there is no reason to shame others for not choosing to do so. Each person has their own hair journey and what makes them feel at their best. Honor it, celebrate it, and admire it when you can.
Zoe and Will
Story-wise, the only story you may find yourself investing in might be Zoe and Will’s. This father/ daughter duo have the kind of relationship that makes you sometimes never mind Violet and her story. For her story is all about her hair message but Zoe and Will’s is about heart. For with Will being a single dad to this outspoken and charismatic child, you want to explore their relationship more. Hear how he handles Zoe’s mother leaving and how Zoe handles the world as a 10-year-old Black girl with natural hair, taken care of by her dad, and dealing with being rather comfortable in who she is.
On The Fence
For, I’m telling you, Violet’s story just doesn’t give a whole lot. Yes, there is her cutting her hair and the liberation that comes with that. However, and this could just be because I’m a dude who has had a low Caesar cut most of his life, while you’ll appreciate the message that Violet’s story has, it doesn’t really offer much else. Her relationship with Clint is dull as bricks and between their breakup, him having a rebound, and them getting back together, you just roll your eyes.
The same thing goes for Violet’s parents in terms of both her relationship to them and their relationship with each other. Despite how Paulette caused all of Violet’s insecurities and issues, she is never really addressed for being the root cause. Also, while it is noted Paulette was allowed to wear her hair natural as a child, we don’t really get to hear much about the shift to making sure her child’s head was always done. We just get Lynn Whitfield being the kind of mother she usually plays. Just more Cheetah Girls than Greenleaf or Madea’s Family Reunion – in terms of being a bit
Then, when it comes to Paulette and Richard’s relationship? Honestly, you recognize something goes down between when Violet is 11 and after the 20 some odd year time jump, when Richard becomes a model, but it’s never addressed head-on. Instead, you feel there is just enough given to imply these people do have lives but since they aren’t the leads, it isn’t important enough to focus on. You connect the dots during your own time.
So, About That Ending
The movie’s ending doesn’t feel like a conclusion to all we saw. Violet does reconcile with Will, and they are kind of flirty, but as for their next move, or Violet’s? That’s sort of left in the air. You can safely assume she’ll be okay, personally, professionally, and romantically, but you aren’t given a definite.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | View on Netflix
While you do have to appreciate the message and hair journey Violet has, the lack of development with nearly all her relationships make it so her story is forgettable. To the point, it gets upstaged by a 10-year-old and her dad who you wish were featured more heavily. For with Violet and her mom never having a full heart to heart about their issues with hair, and us left hanging by what may or may not happen between her and Will, Violet is an afterthought in comparison to the vibrant Johns and what she brings to the movie, especially when playing off Lathan and Bent.
Hence the mixed label. While you have to highlight Violet’s hair journey, especially as a black woman, it isn’t enough to compensate for a weak story. Even with the use of Zoe to show what could come if Black girls were empowered to love their hair and given nothing to impede exuding confidence. Never mind the addition of her father as a potential love interest for Violet and being a lovely example of a single Black father taking care of a daughter like Zoe.