The “mane (main) attraction” that has everyone talking right now is the Netflix comedy-drama, Nappily Ever After. It’s our pick for a hair flick for two reasons. One, it stars actor Sanaa Lathan of The Best Man, Love and Basketball, Brown Sugar, Disappearing Acts, Nip/Tuck, The Affair, and more. Two, duh, it’s about hair and how women, in particular, view themselves in relation to their hair.
Here’s a sneak peek followed by excerpts from a decider.com review.
Violet Jones (Sanaa Lathan) has always spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about her hair. This isn’t unusual, as most Black women want to make sure their hair is as perfect as possible at all times. Violet learned this from her mother Pauletta (Lynn Whitfield), who didn’t even want her to go into the pool when she was 10, for fear of seeing her straightened ‘do frizz out.
Now she’s 35 and a successful advertising executive, turning heads with her perfect hair, power dress, and confident air. She tries so hard to be perfect for her doctor boyfriend Clint (Ricky Whittle) that she wakes up at 5 in the morning, greets her mother at her door, and gets a comb-out just so she can be perfect for when he wakes up.
She’s convinced he’s going to propose during her birthday party. He doesn’t — he buys a dog for them to take care of — and she dumps him when he says that she’s “too perfect” and they’ve been on a “two year first date.” But not before an emergency trip to a new hair salon, where she loses some of her precious locks due to a not-so-purposeful mixup…
Emotionally distraught, she tries a few things with her hair, then sees that Clint has already moved on, which causes her to drunkenly shave her head. After letting go of her hair, can Violet look at herself in a new light?
There are beats in Nappily Ever After where you can see where things are going, especially when it comes to Violet’s relationship with Will. But the most interesting part of the movie, directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour and based on a novel by Trisha R. Thomas, is that the romance at the center of the film isn’t between Violet and Clint or even Violet and Will; it’s between Violet and herself.
Tying Violet’s journey to her hair makes sense when you realize how important hair is to Black women. When Violet lets go of her hair, she lets go of everything that was keeping her from knowing her true self.
Nappily Ever After is filled with great performances, especially from Whitfield as Violet’s demanding mother and Ernie Hudson as Violet’s father Richard, who leaves Pauletta for a career as a 60-year-old male model. The attention he attracts after his first gig hits the newsstands (it’s an underwear spot in a store circular) makes for a good running joke.
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