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Published: Friday, 10/22/2004

Movie review: Woman, Thou Art Loosed ****


Woman, Thou Art Loosed is a movie with a message, and it isn't shy about what it has to say.

One out of three women has been abused or is in an abusive relationship, according to Bishop T.D. Jakes, who plays himself in the film. For many of those, the pattern of abuse began in childhood.

Michelle Jordan (Kimberly Elise) is one of those women. At age 12, she is molested by her mother's boyfriend, Reggie (Clifton Powell), which puts her on a path of drugs, prostitution, and prison.

Part of the genre of Christian movies that have been appearing in mainstream theaters over the last few years, Woman, Thou Art Loosed is head and shoulders above most of them in quality. It's not as heavy-handed as it could be, and, except for Reggie, it makes few judgments, preferring instead to show the forces and mindsets at play that allowed, even encouraged, Michelle's pain.

Viewers are expected to weigh the information and make their own determinations.

One reason Woman is so strong is because it's a well-made movie, and even viewers with little affinity for religion will be caught up in Michelle's world.

Elise heads a strong cast, which includes Loretta Devine as her mother, Cassie; Debbi Morgan as Twana, a family friend; Michael Boatman and Idalis Deleon as childhood pals, and Sean Blakemore and Ricky Harris as drug dealers.

All have stories to tell, and as their views of the way the world works are layered one on top of the other, the many shades of gray in the situation become strikingly apparent.

Jakes is a real-life evangelist whose programs are broadcast on Black Entertainment Television and Trinity Broadcasting and Daystar networks. He's a charismatic man who often ministers to those in prison, which makes his scenes with Michelle credible and deeply affecting.

Woman, Thou Art Loosed is based on his Sunday School curriculum of hope and redemption, but it doesn't proselytize. Instead, writer Stan Foster's complex characters and Michael Schultz's sympathetic direction allow the talented cast and Jakes' strong message to create a memorable movie.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.

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