Hot Take: It’s as if BET and Lifetime dropped a mix tape. Not very good but not bad enough that the message doesn’t resonate.
‘Til Death Do Us Part has only been out for 12 days yet you’re unlikely to find it in a theater near you due to a tough opening weekend and even tougher 2nd weekend. Over the past couple of years, low budget films with all black casts have struck a chord at the box office. Two years ago, The Perfect Guy scored a whopping $57 million haul on a minuscule $12 million budget. Last year, When the Bough Breaks managed $29 million on a slightly smaller $10 million budget. While expectations weren’t quite as high for ‘Til Death Do Us Part, the film did not even achieve moderate expectations, cashing in just $1.5 million on opening weekend. Maybe the topic was too serious compared to the 2 previous films mentioned which were much more campy in nature than the drama/thriller about domestic abuse.
Timed to be released as we head into Domestic Violence Awareness Month, ‘Til Death Do Us Part features Annie Ilonzeh as Madison Roland, a loving newlywed who desperately wants to start a family with her husband Michael (Stephen Bishop). Michael isn’t ready for a family and has some unresolved past issues of his own that manifest themselves in an mentally and eventually physical way with Madison as the honeymoon phase of their marriage ends. Despite Michael’s abuse, Madison does everything she can to make it work until she gets pregnant and Michael’s physical abuse intensifies. To get away from Michael, Madison and her friend Chelsea (Robinne Lee) devise a plan to fake her death to get her away. She moves into a new town and starts a new life and falls in love with her neighbor Alex (Taye Diggs) but, as expected, Michael discovers she’s not really dead and eventually her plan unravels.
While the film has an interesting and socially important premise, there’s plenty of questions the film brings up but doesn’t answer. For one, what’s going to happen to Madison once the insurance company realizes she committed insurance fraud to collect on her life insurance? More importantly, how can I get life insurance with a company so easily duped? Seriously, though, the low budget film has a Lifetime Channel quality about it. It’s a criticism I seem to way in with from time to time which might speak to the better than average quality Lifetime Channel movies have but it also draws a line in which theatrical films should shoot to be above. ‘Til Death Do Us Part never quite makes it above that line and even though the cast is game and the message is clear, the film falls below mediocrity and is disappointingly forgettable.
To be fair, I wasn’t expecting much here. While it’s less entertaining than the previously mentioned The Perfect Guy and When the Bough Breaks, they’re both entertaining for the wrong reasons. ‘Til Death Do Us Part is more of an attempt to create awareness through a fictional tale. It does an okay job but it’s not all that entertaining. It left me with a similar feeling I’ve had after being too lazy to turn off the Lifetime Channel on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I guess the plus is at least I had popcorn this time.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- An Important Social Message
Domestic violence is a real problem and even a lackluster film can provide some real insight and awareness of a problem that plagues 25% of all women at some point in their adult life.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Why Didn’t She Move Further Away?
While Madison moves away from Michael, it’s not far enough away that her best friend can’t visit her from time to time. With the insurance money implausibly readily available to her, you have to wonder why Madison didn’t get as far away from Michael as possible.