The recent debut of the Netflix film Nappily Ever After has sparked conversation about topics such as empowerment, identity, relationships. The main character Violet Jones, played by Sanaa Lathan, struggles to find balance after a devastating break-up with her boyfriend of two years. Directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, a filmmaker from Saudi Arabia, this film aims to expand on the conflicts Black women face by focusing on the most centralized feature of the black women hair. It is not the first time we have seen a rom-com of this kind. The recent release of Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, is not new to the concept of light-hearted films with deep and controversial messages hidden beneath the surface.
The film begins with Violet sneaking out of bed to pamper herself up before her perfect boyfriend of two years wakes up. With her upcoming birthday she anticipates that her boyfriend will propose, however, she is friendly greeted with a new puppy from her boyfriend. Disappointment could not bare to describe Violet’s dissatisfaction forcing her to leave her boyfriend Clint. Confronted with the fact that she wasted two years of her life being “the perfect first day” to someone who had already moved on within days of their break-up she drunkenly shaves her head.
Transitioning from different sections of the movie, each titled with a different hairstyle; straight, blonde, bald. Each section exploring how Violet defines herself through her exterior. The judgment she faces from her mother for not only breaking up with a handsome doctor but also with shaving her hair is immense. Demonstrating the pressure set on black women for presentation but also in relationships.
Do not forget that this is a ROM-COM! Between being suffocated with hidden messages about the black community, specifically black women in society, we are introduced to Will, played by Lyriq Bent. A single father, and businessman who is degraded for being a hairstylist. The dynamic between both leading characters telling a story much like Romeo and Juliet, the classism and sexism. However, the character of will also tells another story. The undertone of misogyny is silently spread throughout the dialogue between the two lovebirds. The theory that black men know black women better than black women know themselves is the essence of Will’s character, continuously pressuring his subjective views on black women’s choices to what they do with their hair.
The reviews for Nappily Every After are all across the spectrum praised for its outspokenness and also criticized for its lack of charm., There’s no doubt that this film stays true to its ROM-COM origins and provokes intense conversations.