Violet (Sanaa Lathan) is a confident, high achieving black advertising executive. Successful in her job and in her relationship, her chief concern is to be perfect to snag Clint (Ricky Whittle) her ideal man. Central to this idea of perfection is her long black (hot combed) straight hair.
Expecting Clint to propose on her birthday, she surreptitiously (through her assistant) helps him plan the perfect surprise birthday party, to be attended by friends and family. She feigns surprise on the night, although she is 100% sure he’s going to propose, the night ends in disaster when instead of a ring, she’s presented with a dog as the perfect gift for the woman that has everything.
Soon after the party, the couple ends their relationship and what follows in the aftermath sees Violet confront who she is, her conceptions of beauty, and what true happiness is.
In this RomCom written by Adam Brooks and Cee Marcellus, based on a novel of the same name written by Trisha R. Thomas, we are given a glimpse into a generational world of black women and their hair. We see Violet as a young child, being urged by her mother about avoiding water, lest her long straight tresses are ruined and converted into a mess of tight curls.
We see her as a young woman, waking up an extra hour early to prep the illusion of perfection for her just waking boyfriend Clint. We also see her journey into a world of natural hair, with a natural hairdresser Will (Lyriq Bent) and his semi delinquent (and natural haired) daughter Zoe (Daria Johns) who seems to embody the freedom that Violet appears to want to emulate.
As a story, ‘Nappily Ever After’ has the potential to enlighten us about the very complex world of black hair. In places, it’s funny, hilarious even, but those elements are contained in the first 20 minutes of the film. The rest is a long saccharin plod through thin characters and an uncomplicated plot. The story simply has no depth. It’s a hero’s journey sure, but the hero is just not of our time.
Violet belongs in a different era. Had this film been made in the 1990s, along with your Waiting to Exhale or How Stella got her Groove back, perhaps it would have been relevant.
I’d give this one a .
Nappily Ever After is available on Netflix