AT FIRST BLUSH: Jones (left) and Smollett-Bell are tempted to touch.
Choices, actions, and consequences are three inescapable facets of life. How we navigate the tricky terrain among them determines our happiness and if we ultimately survive the game. A beautiful young Black couple come to discover this truth in Tyler Perry's latest release, Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counsellor, an eye-opening film laced with intrigue and compassion and no shortage of life lessons.
Written, directed and produced by Perry, the story revolves around Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who is happily married to her equally attractive pharmacist husband Bryce (Lance Gross), her childhood sweetheart, while thriving in her job at a matchmaking company run by flamboyant boss lady, Janice (Vanessa Williams with a tepid French accent).
But, as it turns out, what Judith really wants to do is strike out and open her own practice as a marriage counsellor.
When she meets Harley (terrific newcomer Robbie Jones), a handsome computer billionaire, he awakens fresh desires in her, entices her with the promise of assistance to get her practice started, and gradually woos her away from her well-meaning husband.
Perry does a fantastic job of ratcheting up the intrigue and intensity while letting us witness how things can suddenly fall apart in a relationship. He doesn't always steer clear of the melodrama (especially during those scenes with Judith's Bible-thumping mother), but his central characters, as well as their actions and motivations, are thoroughly believable.
Smollett-Bell and Gross share winning chemistry, particularly in the film's early stages. Singer Brandy Norwood, who appears as Melinda, Bryce's co-worker with a secret past, delivers in her few short scenes. Kim Kardashian doesn't fare as well, though, as Judith's snooty co-worker, Ava.
It is always best to approach Tyler Perry's movies as escapist entertainment. As such, Temptation captivates in its most intense (and occasionally light-hearted) moments but falters in its more melodramatic ones. It's a movie about the pitfalls often attendant to being young and caught up in the world. People simply fall prey to poor choices that sometimes come with irreversible consequences. Tyrone's Verdict: B