For several years now, Black women have had to contend with the media fueled stereotype of being perpetually single and unwed. (Apparently new statistics show that 50% of Black women will never get married.) Lifetime’s “With This Ring” tells the story of a group of girlfriends who make a pack to defy this label, and vow to get married (or engaged) in one year’s time. Not unlike David E. Talbert’s “Baggage Claim” (2013), “With This Ring” centers around three thirty-plus girlfriends who want their happily-ever-after at any cost. However, they soon discover that what they thought they wanted may not actually be worth having after all.
Trista (Regina Hall) is an up-and-coming talent agent who cannot seem to get past the ex-boyfriend who never truly committed to her. Upon discovering that she’s wasted yet another night entertaining his foolishness, Trista sets out on an unwavering quest to get a ring on her finger. Trista’s best friend Vivian (Jill Scott) is still in love with the father of her child. She pines after him, unable to move forward in her love life because of her feelings for him. Instead of telling him how she feels, Viv chooses to live in fantasyland and continues playing house with a man who sees her solely as the mother of his child. Amaya (Eve) is a struggling actress who is frantically trying to convince her married boyfriend to leave his wife for her. Convinced that her boyfriend’s wife is having her own affair, Amaya spends hours trying to catch her in the act. After attending their friend Elise’s (Brooklyn Sandou) New Year’s Eve wedding, the trio decides that they’ve had enough, and they take their romantic lives in their own hands. Unsurprisingly, their plans do not go accordingly.
Admittedly, a great deal of the film is comprised of Lifetime’s trademark cheesy clichés (poor choices made by these women, the usual rom-com high jinks, etc), which you’re either already with (especially if you’re a regular Lifetime viewer), or are not. There are dream sequences, for example, that simply don’t work, and the movie would’ve been better off without.
But despite these flaws, and once you make the adjustment, writer/director Nzingha Stewart is able to keep the narrative contained, playing it to its strengths, exploiting its humor, with, for instance, surprisingly hilarious commentary on “weaves,” “aging ovaries,” as well as funny moments, including Trista’s awful dates with STD-riddled men, and wannabe vampires.
Another unexpectedly fantastic part of the film was Gabrielle Union’s scene as Amaya’s boyfriend’s wife. It was great to see her become someone other than Mary Jane. It was also refreshing to see drama-free co-parenting being portrayed on screen. Even without marriage or a romantic relationship, parents can still build strong households for their children; but, unfortunately, that is hardly ever shown in films, or on television.
Ultimately, again, despite its expected Lifetime original movie fluffiness, the film does leave the viewer with some perspective. As Trista finds herself in a constant cycle of waiting for happiness, she finally comes to the realization that happiness has to start from within, which, in the end, is the point of it all.
Also worth noting, the movie makes it clear that Regina Hall is severely underused as an actress, and should have lot more work then she is given.
Beautifully-shot with picturesque Los Angeles as a backdrop, “With This Ring” is a film about sisterhood and choosing happiness. Its cutesy and laugh-out-loud moments make it quite a bit of fun at times.
The romantic comedy, based on the best seller “The Vow” by Denene Millner, Angela Burt-Murray and Mitzi Miller, also stars Brooklyn Sudano, NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, Stephen Bishop, Jason George and Brian White.
Written and directed by Nzingha Stewart, “With This Ring” is produced by Sony Pictures Television. Executive producers are Tracey E. Edmonds through her Edmonds Entertainment Group, Gabrielle Union in her first producing role, and Sheila Ducksworth.
Casting is by Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd.
The Lifetime original movie premieres Saturday, January 24th at 8PM on Lifetime.
Aramide A Tinubu has her Master’s in Film Studies from Columbia University. She wrote her thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a Black Cinema geek and blogger. You can read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.co or tweet her @midnightrami