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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998)




















Starring:
  • Halle Berry
  • Vivica A. Fox
  • Lela Rochon
  • Larenz Tate
IMDB.com
In the mid-80s, three women (each with an attorney) arrive at the office of New York entertainment manager, Morris Levy. One is an L.A. singer, formerly of the Platters; one is a petty thief from Philly; one teaches school in a small Georgia town. Each claims to be the widow of long-dead doo-wop singer-songwriter Frankie Lyman, and each wants years of royalties due to his estate, money Levy has never shared. During an ensuing civil trial, flashbacks tell the story of each one's life with Lyman, a boyish, high-pitched, dynamic performer, lost to heroin. Slowly, the three wives establish their own bond.

The filmmakers know you've heard this tale before - true life chronicle of a young singing star's rise and tragic fall - and so they wisely downplay the standard bio trappings and instead focus on a raucously entertaining ride through Frankie Lymon's woman troubles. The smart screenplay revolves around the court battle of Lymon's three wives (yes, three!) over song royalties, leading to vivid (and often humorously contradictory) flashbacks of their lives with the singer. Larenz Tate is magnetic playing the many different sides of the ever-changing lead character, but the film ultimately belongs to Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox and Lela Rochon as the wives. Each is allowed to shine as the trio portrays 30 years of changes in the women's lives, with Fox drop-dead hilarious as the most outrageous of the three. There's beautifully detailed '60s-era cinematography, sets, costuming and musical numbers, plus a side-splitting turn by Miguel Nunez as a young Little Richard. Major issues (such as '60s race relations) are barely glanced at, but what this film lacks in depth, it makes up for ten-fold in entertainment value. A winner!

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