“Woman, Thou Art Loosed”

WOMAN, THOU ART LOOSED, Kimberly Elise, Michael Boatman, 2004, (c) Magnolia Pictures

______WOMAN, THOU ART LOOSED, Kimberly Elise, Michael Boatman, 2004, (c) Magnolia Pictures

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
October 1, 2004

3 stars

Filmgoers are taken into the mournful world of a woman who never had a chance in “Woman, Thou Art Loosed.”

Michelle Jordan’s God-fearing mother resented her for being around, while her “Uncle” Reggie enjoyed having her around all too much, making life at home even seedier than the strip club in which she would later work. As she later tells a childhood friend, “That ain’t my home. It’s just a place where part of me is buried.”

She is not yet loosed — or free.

Michelle is a tortured young woman with no future. Raped and abused by her mother’s boyfriend, she had to live in the same house with her attacker. But perhaps even more painful was that her own mother didn’t believe her. Or, worse yet, she did but refused to do anything about it because she was afraid that listening to her daughter would cause her to lose her man — a man who never held down a job, who ran around with other women and who smoked crack with the neighborhood kids.

This film adaptation of Bishop T.D. Jakes’ best-selling novel and theatrical production of the same name is gritty and heartbreaking. It tells a powerful story that is true in too many households. Do we vilify the child molester who uses the mother to support him while he abuses her pre-pubescent daughter? Or do we blame the mother, who had been molested by her parents, when chooses not to believe her own child? Perhaps the finger should be pointed at the friends and neighbors who suspected what was going on but who never intervened to protect the girl.

And when the now grown-up girl fires a gun out of fear, frustration and sorrow, then what do we do?

Jakes, who plays himself, lends an easygoing, gentle air to the film, which is directed by Milwaukee native Michael Schultz (“Car Wash” and “Crush Groove”). He is, as he is supposed to be, inspirational. But ultimately there is little he can do to save Michelle. She has to save herself.

If there is a fault with the film, it would be the forced romance between Michelle and her childhood pal, Todd (Michael Boatman). That Todd has empathy for her is understandable. No one would be able to see an old girlfriend or boyfriend and not be touched by his or her dire circumstances. But aside from the beauty of Kimberly Elise, the stunning actress who plays Michelle, there is little that would attract him. Any capacity she had to love was taken from her as a child and she is either unable — or unwilling — to return love.

“All you do is give false hope and leave,” Michelle tells Jakes. But that sentiment sums up the world in which she lives — one where no hope is better than false hope.

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