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It’s a good thing that forgiveness is a predominant theme of Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day, because viewers will have to look deep into their hearts to forgive this kidnapping drama for its heavy-handed melodrama and tawdry plot elements. The second in a series of films shepherded by well-known author and televangelist T.D. Jakes, it somehow manages to be as unsavory as it is purportedly inspirational.
The plotline revolves around the kidnapping of the six-year-old daughter (Zoe Carter) of an upscale New Orleans couple — university professor David Ames (Blair Underwood) and his real-estate agent wife Kari (Sharon Leal) — whose spacious mansion suggests that Big Easy real estate values have gone up considerably since Hurricane Katrina.
At first, the main suspect is a white, bowtie-wearing serial predator of children (Patrick Weathers) whose M.O. is to kill his victims on the seventh day of their captivity — hence the title. But when Kari turns out to have a secret past as a convicted prostitute and drug addict — “You were a ho?” asks the incredulous David — it raises the suspicions of the investigating detective (played in bad-ass, Foxy Brown style by Pam Grier).
Among the other figures involved are an FBI agent (Nicoye Banks) who turns out to be Kari’s old flame and who still carries a major torch for her, and David’s beautiful teaching assistant (Nicole Beharie) whose tender solicitation towards her stressed boss seems more than just sympathetic.
In between scenes depicting the investigation in which Grier’s cop beats up, harasses and taunts a variety of suspects — “That’s detective bitch to you,” she retorts to an insult thrown her way — the film concentrates on the couple’s troubled relationship and Kari’s emotional turmoil stemming from her late father having sexually abused her when she was a child. That’s where the good Reverend Jakes comes in, with a cameo appearance in which he counsels Kari on how to lay her demons to rest.
Neema Barnette’s direction features occasional visual flourishes like the image turning to black-and-white during particularly emotional moments, but mostly the proceedings unroll in bland, TV movie-style fashion. The actors do what they can with the ham-fisted material, with Underwood—also credited with second unit direction — doing his usual stolid work as the anguished dad.
Typical of the film’s indifference to reality is Grier’s outlandish costuming, making her look like a distaff member of the Neville Brothers and which seems to indicate that the New Orleans Police Department has quite a lenient dress code.
Opened: April 13 (Codeblack Entertainment)
Production: T.D. Jakes Enterprises
Cast: Blair Underwood, Sharon Leal, Nicole Beharie, T.D. Jakes, Nicoye Banks, Jacqueline Fleming, Reed McCants, Zoe Carter, Samantha Beaulieu, Tim Frances, Patrick Weathers, Clyde Jones, Pam Grier
Director: Neema Barnette
Screenwriter: Cory Tynan
Producers: Jeff Clanagan, Nina Henderson Moore, Quincy Newell, Neema Barnette, Blair Underwood
Executive producers: T.D. Jakes, Jonathan Babineaux, Jordan Babineaux, Michael Turner, Derrick Williams, Curtis Wallace, Steven Greener, Kevin Columbus
Director of photography: Keith Smith.
Editor: David Beatty
Music: Mark Kilian
Production designer: Cecil Gentry
Costume designer: Shauna Leone
Rated PG-13, 101 min.
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