The Color Purple review: A moving & cathartic must-see musical where its female cast shine

27 January 2024, 14:19 | Updated: 27 January 2024, 22:19

The Color Purple poster
The Color Purple is released in the UK on 26th January. Picture: Warner Bros. Pictures

By Jenny Mensah

The musical adaptation of Alice Walker's famed novel has hit UK cineams. Find out everything you need to know about the new film and if it holds up to the hype.

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After an early US release during Christmas 2023, The Color Purple is finally ready to storm in UK cinemas.

The musical adaptation of Alice Walker's acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning novel includes a star-studded cast in Taraji P. Henson, Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks and Halle Bailey.

The film has had plenty of awards buzz already, which is no surprise given that Stephen Spielberg's original 1985 adaptation, starring Whoopi Goldberg, received 11 Oscar nods at the time.

As The Color Purple prepares to touch a whole new audience, find out what you need to know about the 2023 film, including its cast, soundtrack and how we rated it.

The Color Purple | Official Trailer

When is The Color Purple out in the UK?

The Color Purple is released in UK cinemas on 26th January 2024.

The Color Purple review:

If you're in any way familiar with Alice Walker's critically acclaimed novel, you'll know that when it comes to The Color Purple, you're not in for an easy ride. Set in the Deep South, with the shadow of slavery still looming, the film deals with themes of racism, sexism, physical and sexual abuse and even incest. However, much like film adaptation before it, The Colour Purple manages to be mostly faithful to Walker's book and find hope and humour in the most unlikely of places. Taken from the Tony award-winning musical, this film looks and sounds absolutely stunning, with not just purple, but also reds, pinks, yellows and blues all popping out on the screen from the moment the opening credits roll.

Fantasia Barrino is absolutely made for the role of Celie, which isn't surprising given the fact she's played it on Broadway where she was honoured with a Theatre World Award in 2007 for Outstanding Broadway Debut Performance. Still, we'd be remiss not to note this is the American Idol alum's motion picture film debut - and she takes to it beautifully. As does Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, who plays a very believable young Celie and, frankly looks so uncannily like Fantasia, it's hard to imagine a better person for the part. Halle Bailey more than pulls her weight as young Nettie, who - fresh from her stint as Ariel in The Little Mermaid - proves herself to be more than a one hit wonder when it comes to box office blockbusters.

Taraji P. Henson has made no secret of the work she put in to become Shug Avery and there's absolutely no doubt that you can see the fruits of her labour as she stands toe to toe with Fantasia during their What About Love? number. In the wake of her emotional revelation about being chronically undervalued and underpaid as a Black actress in Hollywood,one can only hope her performance in the film will go someway towards her being recognised and fairly treated in the future.

Given the fact she made her Broadway debut in the 2015 revival of The Color Purple as Sofia, it was fair to assume the character was in safe hands with Danielle Brooks. Naturally, the Orange Is The New Black actress doesn't disappoint in the much-loved role, providing the most comedic value as well as the most pathos in the film. And it looks like the critics agree, with the actress receiving an a Oscars nomination for Best Supporting Actress this year.

Musicals may not be to everyone's taste, but if one was to see an all-singing, all-dancing Broadway adaptation in the cinema this year, then The Color Purple would be a sure bet. With a stellar cast, beautifully choreographed dance scenes, a witty screenplay and stunnin, tear-jerking vocal performances, The Colour Purple will take you to church and deliver cathartic cinema at its best.

4/5

Who stars In The Color Purple 2023?

The Color Purple stars Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), SAG Award winner and Tony Award nominee Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple, Orange Is the New Black), Tony nominee and Emmy Award winner Colman Domingo (Euphoria, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Tony Award nominee Corey Hawkins (Six Degrees of Separation, In the Heights), Oscar- and Grammy-winning artist H.E.R. (Judas and the Black Messiah), Grammy nominee Halle Bailey (The Little Mermaid), Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (“King Richard,” “Ray”), and Grammy-winning artist Fantasia Barrino in her major motion picture debut.

What is The Color Purple about?

The Color Purple is a coming-of-age tale about the relationship between three women, based on Alice Walker's novel of the same name. Set in the deep south it follows main character Celie, who overcomes oppression and abuse to find a life of independence and self-love.

The film's screenplay is written by acclaimed playwright Marcus Gardley, who won a WGA Award for Maid. His script is based on the novel by Alice Walker and based on the musical stage play, book (of the musical stage play) by Marsha Norman, music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.

Who's on The Color Purple soundtrack?

Alicia Keys performs Lifeline on the official soundtrack for The Color Purple. Watch the official video for the song, which was written and co-produced by the Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum artist below:

Alicia Keys - Lifeline (Official Music Video)

Elsewhere on the official soundtrack is Fantasia, Taraji P. Henson, Halle Bailey and H.E.R, who star in the film, as well as Mary J. Blige, Usher, Jorja Smith, Missy Elliot, Celeste and more.

Get the full tracklist below.

The Color Purple Soundtrack
The Color Purple Soundtrack. Picture: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Color Purple tracklisting:

  1. Huckleberry Pie – Halle Bailey and Phylicia Pearl Mpasi
  2. Mysterious Ways – Tamela Mann, David Alan Grier, Halle Bailey and The Color Purple Ensemble
  3. She Be Mine – Phylicia Pearl Mpasi and Ensemble
  4. Keep It Movin’ – Halle Bailey and Phylicia Pearl Mpasi
  5. Workin’ – Corey Hawkins and The Color Purple Ensemble
  6. Hell No! – Danielle Brooks and The Color Purple Ensemble
  7. Shug Avery – Fantasia Barrino, Colman Domingo and The Color Purple Ensemble
  8. Dear God – Shug – Fantasia Barrino
  9. Push Da Button – Taraji P. Henson
  10. What About Love? – Fantasia Barrino and Taraji P. Henson
  11. Agoo – The Color Purple Ensemble
  12. Hell No! (Reprise) – Fantasia Barrino
  13. Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister) – Taraji P. Henson
  14. Miss Celie’s Pants – Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, Gabriella Wilson “H.E.R.” and The Color Purple Ensemble
  15. I’m Here – Fantasia Barrino
  16. Maybe God Is Tryin’ To Tell You Somethin’ – Taraji P. Henson and David Alan Grier
  17. The Color Purple – Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, Ciara, Corey Hawkins, Colman Domingo and The Color Purple Ensemble
  18. SUPERPOWER (I) – Fantasia
  19. Risk It All – USHER & H.E.R.
  20. No Love Lost – Keyshia Cole
  21. Lifeline – Alicia Keys
  22. Finally – Jorja Smith
  23. Keep Pushin’ [Missy Elliott remix] – Halle Bailey
  24. When I Can’t Do Better – Mary J. Blige
  25. There Will Come A Day – Celeste
  26. Any Worse (Squeak’s Song) – H.E.R.
  27. Hell No! (Reprise) [Missy Elliott remix] – Fantasia feat. Shenseea
  28. You See Me – Coco Jones
  29. Workin' [Timbaland remix] – Corey Hawkins feat. Black Thought
  30. Mysterious Ways [Mörda remix] – Tamela Mann
  31. All I Need – Jennifer Hudson
  32. Hell No! [Timbaland remix] – Danielle Brooks feat. Megan Thee Stallion
  33. 100 Jane Handcock
  34. Eternity – October London
  35. No Time – Darkchild feat. Konstance
  36. Girls – V. Bozeman, Dyo & LUDMILLA
  37. Maybe God Is Tryin’ To Tell You Somethin’ – Mary Mary & Taraji P. Henson

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