Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
NOT EASILY BROKEN
Directed by: Bill Duke
Running time: 99 minutes
Release date: January 9, 2009
Genre: Drama, Romance and Adaptation
Distributor: Sony Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Not Easily Broken was adapted from the best selling author and clergy T.D. Jake's novel by the same title. The plot is based on a story that plagues some married couples. Not Easily Broken raises the questions: how does a married couple fall apart and how does one go about saving a relationship?
Not Easily Broken captures the life of an African American couple, Dave and Clarice Johnson played by Morris Chestnut and Taraji P. Henson. This couple's marriage moves toward destruction propelled by their failure to communicate. After years of disagreeing on what is important to each other, the couple come to that fork in the road of marital disaster.
The film gives a strong overtone of religion as the foundation of a happy marriage. Veteran director Bill Duke enforces this theme with a lot of compassion in the film's characters as he stays true to the novel. As a narrative, I consider this film fundamental at best .
However, accomplished actor Morris Chestnut's performance is excellent. Also lighting up the screen is the magnificent actress Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Family That Preys, and Smokin' Aces).
Taraji P. Henson portrays a woman climbing the social ladder. She is driven by her successful real estate career which pays the majority of the bills of their upper middle-class lifestyle. Dave (Morris Chestnut) is a man who once had dreams of playing major league baseball until an injury rendered him unable to play. He spends his time running his own small construction company, coaching little league baseball for the Los Angeles disadvantaged kids and hanging out with the guys. He enjoys wearing jeans, while in constrast his wife thrives on the designer labels.
Clarice has a devastating car accident causing a leg injury that requires physical rehabilitation. The impact of the plot focuses on Clarice's injury. The constant presence of her physical therapist, Julie (Maeve Quinlin) along with the rigorously painful process of learning to walk again is hard. However, Clarice's mother (Jenifer Lewis) invites herself to their home to help. Her presence wrecks havoc on Dave.
Dave, on the other hand, mentors Julie's son. The story of the film proceeds in a predictable "soap box opera style" situation between Dave and Julie (who happens to be white) that threatens the Johnson marriage. While watching this movie, I found myself at times attached to the characters mainly due to the fact that some of the situations were quite realistic. Morris Chestnut and Taraji P. Henson's performances capture the rapidity with which relationships can fall apart, along with the rigorous and painful healing process, which requires honest communication and humility. The lack of communication and respect, along with divergent priorities slowing, wear down their relationship.
Supporting members in this movie are functionally cast; however, Kevin Hart who plays Dave's very sensitive and emotional buddy "Tree" steals the show with a great comic relief of entertainment.
This is not a great film, however it is not bad.
(FILM RATING C+)