Nappily Ever After was your average feel-good movie

Nappily Ever After was your average feel-good movie

When it comes to a Netflix original movie, it’s either a hit or miss. Rarely is there an in-between. As I pressed play to watch the romantic comedy Nappily Ever After, I was hopeful for the former category. Interestingly enough, I can’t quite say the movie was wholly good or wholly bad.

Nappily Ever After is the movie adaptation of a book by Trisha Thomas. It begins with a short backstory about Violet Jones (Sanaa Lathan), the main character. Ever since she was little, everything about her had to be perfect, especially her hair. Over and over, Violet’s mother, Paulette Jones (Lynn Whitfield), drills this into her head until she believes it as well.

Skipping forward in time, Violet is a put-together and successful young woman in the beauty advertising business. A bad breakup after a two-year relationship with Clint (Ricky Whittle) shatters Violet’s world, and she embarks along an emotional journey that begins when she does the one thing she thought she would never do: shave her head. Along the way, new friendships and relationships are formed, the most significant being a with a hairdresser named Will Wright (Lyriq Bent) and his young daughter Zoe (Daria Johns).

The most unique quirk of the movie was the story-telling. The movie is split into different sections based on what Violet is doing with her hair. Her old hair works as something close to a metaphor for what her mental state is and what stage of life she is going through. I really like the way it breaks up the movie and gives the audience a sense of time passing.

My favorite scene would have to be the scene where Violet shaves her head. It’s this big moment where she starts out unsure, internally wrestling with this decision, before she appears to mentally tell herself, “Screw it. I’m doing this.” In Violet’s eyes, she has hit rock bottom. She is so absorbed in self-pity that the only logical thing to do is grab a shovel to dig past rock bottom since everything “perfect” about her life is destroyed. Instead, the more hair Violet shaves, the more electrically ecstatic she becomes. Soon, she is laughing, crying, shaking, and smiling all at the same time.

Completely bald, Violet stands and looks in the mirror, just standing there looking and feeling a tidal wave of relief come crashing down on her. The music, cinematography, and acting work in tandem to create an atmosphere of intense liberation. As Violet lets go, you do as well, most likely with tears rolling down your face.

Nappily Ever After portrays Violet’s perfectionism as an addiction, rather than a good thing or even a disease like other movies. It shows how the perfectionism addiction slowly took over her life and controls most of her actions. In fact, it was her perfectionism that drove her to hit that aforementioned low point in her life.

Like breaking an addiction, it takes Violet a long time and lots of support to stop caring so much and let loose. Without spoiling too much, her perfectionism is also like an addiction because of relapses, which she must make a conscious effort to put an end to.

Don’t ever let anyone’s negative opinion of you become your reality.”

Nappily Ever After

Two of the most significant sources of support for Violet are Will and Zoe. Will encourages and helps Violet become her own woman and let go of the pressures laid on her by family and society. Plus, their easy-going, breezy relationship that ensues is very adorable. When it comes to Zoe, Violet is like a mentor to her. She teaches Zoe the things that a mother would have taught her. Zoe also contributes to this relationship with her pure, childlike freedom that inspires Violet to let go a little bit more.

The character development of Violet is the most prominent element of the movie and, without a doubt, the best as well. Violet begins as a confident and flawless woman in her thirties. Once her hair is gone, she becomes dejected, dispirited, and despondent. Through the help and kindness of her friends, people she meets along the way, and strangers, Violet starts to come into her own. Violet believed that being “perfect” is who she is, but this movie is all about the search to discover herself when being “perfect” simply doesn’t matter anymore.

Watching Violet change was empowering and uplifting. Seeing a strong and bold woman who does what she wants when she wants is so inspiring. Anybody can be bold. Anybody can be carefree. Anybody can be unique. Everyone can be perfect just the way they are.

One of my only fights to pick with Nappily Ever After is the terrible ending. The audience is left with so many questions. As far as I know, there is no second movie coming in the future, so this added aspect of mystery only stands to frustrate.

Additionally, this movie is technically classified as a romantic comedy for mature audiences. This movie’s main focus was not the romantic relationships Violet was involved in; they were more of a subplot. As for the comedy part, Nappily Ever After wasn’t outrageously hilarious. Sure, there were some witty and comical one-liners, but that was the extent of the comedy. Lastly, the scenes or word choice that gave this movie the classification of “mature audiences” were completely unnecessary. I actually believe this movie would be more widely watched and more impactful had these parts been cut out.

All in all, Nappily Ever After isn’t ordinary, but it isn’t extraordinary. If you are looking for a feel-good sob-story to watch, I would recommend this movie, but I definitely wouldn’t rave about it. Mostly, I’m glad that I didn’t waste close to an hour and a half watching Nappily Ever After on a school night…