In church jargon, deliverance from bondage is known as being “loosed.” As a renowned televangelist, author and lecturer, Bishop T.D. Jakes specializes in providing guidance for such a transformation.
In film, however, the Dallas-based pastor needs more experience in properly translating his message. Woman, Thou Art Loosed, originally based on a Sunday school curriculum, has evolved into a book, stage production and now a movie. Starring the powerful, physically striking and highly underrated Kimberly Elise, along with equally moving veteran Loretta Devine, the film has the makings of what could be an effective spiritual drama. But questionable directing methods cause Woman, Thou Art Loosed to frequently feel more like a gospel play at Masonic Temple.
Co-producer Jakes plays himself in a fairly inconsequential role as the minister visiting a woman (Elise), as she awaits her scheduled execution for murdering a child molester. Jakes isn’t much of an actor and plays a role that serves little purpose.
Flashbacks are placed within flashbacks, making the story hard to follow as the woman floats between her sad childhood and the brief period before she commits murder.
Further obstructing the plot is director Michael Schultz’s peculiar use of talking heads: individual cast members are randomly placed in front of the camera in darkened backgrounds to directly address the audience and explain the thoughts of their characters.
Also lost is any evidence of the transforming power of spirituality, which is key to a film of this nature. The hardened and cautious murderess abruptly prepares to release her inner demons during a three-day church revival while her mother’s boyfriend — a drug addict and womanizer — seems prepared to accept Jesus for unknown reasons.
By far, the most dramatic and effective scenes of Woman, Thou Art Loosed are those depicting Jakes in his natural element as a powerful orator in what appears to be actual footage of his church services.
Eddie B. Allen Jr. writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.