(director/writer: Haifaa Al-Mansour; screenwriters: Adam Brooks/Cee Marcellus/based on the novel Nappily Ever After by Trisha R. Thomas; cinematographer: Alar Kivilo; editor: Jay Deuby; music: Lesley Barber; cast: Ricky Whittle (Clint), Sanaa Lathan (Violet Jones), John Salley (Tyson Edwards), Lyriq Bent (Will), Daria Johns (Zoe), Lynn Whitfield (Paulette),Ernie Hudson (Richard), Constance Wu (Rachel); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Tracey Bing/Marc Platt/Jared LeBoff/Sanaa Lathan; Netflix; 2018)

A pleasing fluff piece.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The first female Saudi Arabian filmmaker is the feminist auteur Haifaa Al-Mansour (“Wadja”). Her feel-good coming-of-age romantic comedy is a pleasing fluff piece. The pic takes great concern over the emotional disposition of its vulnerable African-American main character.

It’s broken up into different “chapters”: “Straightened,” “Weave,” “Blonde,” etc. The director and writers Adam Brooks and Cee Marcellus adapt it to the screen from the novel Nappily Ever After by Trisha R. Thomas (eight-book series). Violet Jones (Sanaa Lathan) is a successful young woman advertising executive living with a respectable young doctor named Clint (Ricky Whittle). Violet has been raised by a traditional mom (Lynn Whitfield). Her values have been influenced by mom’s belief that appearance is very important to success in life. Violet’s anxiety is because her hair is straightened, which means she spends her life avoiding anything that will destroy her ideal hair.

The story revolves around Violet’s gradual change to not be ashamed of her natural hair, which means confronting mom’s values. She starts having second thoughts about her hair when Clint fails to propose and tells her that he is turned off that she wastes so much time and money over her hair, that she ruins sex by caring more about messing up her hair. Thereby the perfect couple breakup. During a bad hair day at the natural hair salon of owner Will (Lyriq Bent) and his free-speaking young daughter Zoe (Daria Johns), they tell her like it is and give her courage to buck mom. “Nappily Ever After” serves as a cautionary warning that going overboard for straightened hair might mean something is not in check with your life.

It’s a flawed film but with a broad appeal to a varied audience to keep you aware of what many black women go through.