There were many things Shadow And Act’s Managing Editor Brooke Obie took issue with in her review of Taraji P. Henson’s latest racial harmony / white savior film The Best of Enemies. But besides the played out narrative, Obie had qualms with Henson’s costume:
“Most egregious, we must watch as screen time is devoted to rehabbing the president of the Klan, and I’m as tired as the wig on Taraji’s head. Seriously, that unfortunate hair hat and that droopy, padded bra she stole from Madea make her look even less like Ann Atwater than if she’d made no changes to her appearance at all, so what was the point, costume designer J.R. Hawbaker and head hair dresser Andrea C. Brotherton?”
As it turns out, Henson looks like the caricature Madea instead of Ann Atwater on purpose!
Henson revealed to USA Today that she based part of her characterization of Ann Atwater on Tyler Perry’s fictional caricature of a Black woman.
“They didn’t have the breasts right at first–they were too small, kind of like my size,” Henson said of the costume design. “I was like, ‘No, no, no. Why don’t you call Tyler Perry and ask him what they did to Madea’s boobs, because I need to be weighted down. I need to move differently.”
Of course, the filmmakers could have just hired an actress who was Ann Atwater’s size in order to play her and “move” like her. But instead, they opted to pad the bra of the much slimmer Henson. Even with that, you’d think that movie magic would have made for a more seamless appearance for Henson as Atwater. Instead, it’s quite obvious that she is wearing a prosthetic suit, and not a good one at that.
In fact, Henson wearing an ill-fitting suit ripens an already bad film for jokes and memes. And Atwater deserves so much better. Now, with Henson’s admission, she’s added more fuel to the fire.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Henson’s comments about the film have given fans pause. In an interview with Shadow And Act, Henson said the reason the film focuses less on Atwater’s personal life and more on her relationship with former president of Durham, North Carolina’s Ku Klux Klan chapter C.P. Ellis (played by Sam Rockwell) was because the story of the Klansman’s transformation was “a more important story,”:
“I think our purpose for the movie is to really reflect the times and going on now and that’s why the activism was probably more important than her personal life. We put some in there of some and him to show how they were very equal as far as how much they cared for their family. But the story, the impact of the story, was how she got this man, who was very different and from different polar opposites, to change his heart. and I think that’s more important,” she said.
“The act that she did to get a man that was Ku Klux Klan, the president of that chapter, to change his hateful heart to love, that’s a more important story to me,” she added. “I mean, I love Ann and I’m sure her private life was very important but we only got two hours to tell the story. So if someone else would like to write another story about her and life, do it,” as Rockwell can be heard in the background laughing.
Photo credit: STXfilms/Lionsgate