When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story is good if you look at it from the stand point of it being a hood TV movie. However, if you expand your expectations beyond that, you may not have a good time.
Falicia (Niatia Kirkland) was just a young girl in the ATL trying to make some extra cash. However, while stripping to make money she got caught up in the game. The attention from men led her into their bed and got her pregnant by one and eventually pimped out by another. A man named Big Dino (Lance Gross). Someone who exploits this girl from a slightly dysfunctional home and pushes her past her limits. Eventually leading to her becoming the man she once loved, came to fear, and found herself trying to do anything for so that he’d love her the way she loves him.
Another Notch in Niatia Kirkland’s Belt
After her surprising turn in CrazySexyCool, it was hard to know whether that was just a fluke, an easy role to get into because she rapped, or what? However, as Falicia, arguably Kirkland proves that she isn’t one note. Though, I must admit, because expectations were low that might have been why I felt so blown out of the park.
The Story Seems Like It Would Have Gotten Its Due Better With a Documentary
When it comes to retellings of anyone s life, there are only a few takeaways. Either A) you are left feeling like you learned enough of the subject to leave it alone, B) you are given just enough to entice you to learn more on your own or C) You wonder why they didn’t just make a documentary? In the case of When Love Kills, arguably they should have just made a documentary.
For while I get having semi-famous people playing roles brings more notoriety than perhaps director Tasha Smith just providing narration, it is hard to feel like Falaicia’s life just wasn’t done justice. Be it how being raised by someone like her momma contributed to her decisions, the psychological games Dino played, or us just understanding what kept her coming back. Which assumingly was because Dino was one of her first loves, but that is something you could more understand from experience, or other productions, than this one.
On The Fence
After Confessions of a Marriage Counselor, I must admit I was expecting more out of Gross. There was this expectation for him to match Kirkland or at least be the sort of lead she plays off of. However, what we end up getting is him sort of dragging her down a bit. Now, understanding he is playing a real person, meaning he can’t craft someone you love to hate, I get he couldn’t make Dino into one real charismatic character. However, he doesn’t really make him into a hateful bastard either.
Not to say he doesn’t do horrible things to her, but he doesn’t bring his game to the level of us thinking, “This was so good they should have released this in theaters!” Rather, he brings an almost soap opera kind of performance to this. Making it feel sort of corny, like he is just mimicking those who did it better, and yet is failing to truly capture the spirit of those past iterations of guys like Dino.
At the heart of Falicia’s issues, you’ll find her mother. Someone who is good for a one liner or smart mouth, but basically Falicia narrates everything we’d truly need to know about Stacey. That is, the stuff which helps you understand how a woman like Falicia comes to be due to her upbringing by her mom.
As for Roman specifically? Honestly, she is barely given enough material to make any real judgment. A part of me wants to say, similar to Mo’Nique in Precious, in not Kim Wayans in Pariah, she could very well be a comedian who can do a dramatic role and be believable. However, at the end of the day, Stacey’s presence was to help illustrate how young Falicia is and give you a glimpse into the woman who is the reason why her life went down the road it did.
Overall: Negative (Skip It)
As good as Kirkland was, I got to admit it is only because the bar was set so low. However, I do feel if you have any sort of standard or aren’t someone who just supports Black films because you want to see more of them, you may not want to waste your time on this. For while the movie isn’t horrible, it basically is a hood Lifetime movie. One which has dramatic moments and violence, but it doesn’t necessarily make you feel anything.
You don’t get this feeling of shock, you don’t really get feelings of empathy, you just recognize Falicia Blakely had a messed up life. One which you can contribute to a whole bunch of factors which this movie doesn’t dive deep enough into. If only because it seems more about what can be sensationalized and made into memes and twitter hashtags than really allowing these performers to act and take you on a journey.