Halle Berry as Janie Starks
Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Joe Starks
Michael Ealy as Tea Cake
Nicki Micheaux as Phoebe Watson
Lorraine Toussaint as Pearl Stone
Ruby Dee as Nanny
Terrence Howard as Amos Hicks
Gabriel Casseus as Sam Watson
Artel Kayàru as Motor Boat
Kevin Daniels as Liege Moss
Henry Brown as Walter Stone
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 113 Minutes
The following is from the DVD cover:
“Oprah Winfrey Presents Their Eyes Were Watching God, the story of a remarkable and resilient woman’s quest for love and fulfillment based on the best-selling book by Zora Neale Hurston. Academy Award® winner Halle Berry (Best Actress 2003, Monster’s Ball) stars as the beautiful Janie Crawford, who embarks on an emotional and dramatic journey of self-discovery. Refusing to compromise in spite of society’s expectations, Janie endures two stifling marriages until finally finding love in a passionate romance with a much younger man. In one of the greatest, most lyrical love stories ever written, Janie experiences all that life has to offer, from unbelievable triumph to unspeakable heartbreak. Be inspired again and again by this timeless story of passion, romance, and the spirit of true love.
Their Eyes Were Watching God is rated TV-14.
Have you ever read an Oprah Book Club novel? Did you read this novel by Zora Neale Hurston? Do you watch Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, then this movie is for you. Unfortunately, I’m not one of these people. In fact, I’m so far outside of the target audience for this film that I have to go out and do something manly just to offset the effects of watching this movie. Don’t get me wrong I went into this with an open mind. I like Halle Berry, I have nothing against Oprah, and I was receptive to a period drama. But when the film featured a long lingering shot of Tea Cake’s sweaty, manly, hairy chest, I knew I was probably the only straight guy on the planet watching the film at that moment.
Their Eyes Were Watching God has a lot going for it. For a TV production, everything looks like it was made for a feature film. The sets are great, the locations are beautiful, and the acting is first rate. The story is even interesting as Janie goes from man to man searching for love. However, the movie is not accessible to everyone. It is aimed so squarely at women that I can’t imagine many men watching it without being coerced. It’s almost Pride and Prejudice in the 1920’s South.
Despite being a definitive chick flick, I do recognize that there are some good performances here. Halle Berry carries the film as Janie Starks. She’s able to play everything from a teenager to a woman in her late thirties convincingly. This is also probably the dirtiest she’s ever been in a role. I’m not talking Monster’s Ball / nekkid dirty. I’m talking seeing Halle in a pig sty, covered in dirt, and swept away by a hurricane. (Where are those weather controlling mutant abilities when you need them?) She’s supported by a strong cast including Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Joe Starks. He’s believable as a man that Janie could fall in love with all the way up to a guy that would curse her upon his death bed. Michael Ealy is also good as Tea Cake, the young man that could either sweep Janie off of her feet or play her for a fool. He seems likely to do either in the film.
There are no bonus features included on this DVD.
The Bottom Line:
Their Eyes Were Watching God is really only aimed at die-hard fans of Halle Berry, readers in Oprah’s book club, and anyone that likes dramatic romances. Everyone else should pass on it.