Art & Entertainment

'Mea Culpa' On Netflix Movie Review: Tyler Perry's Attempt At An 'Erotic Thriller' Falls Short Of Expectations

Outlook Rating:
2 / 5

Filmmaker Tyler Perry has gotten on-board Kelly Rowland in the lead role of his newest venture titled 'Mea Culpa.' Is this film worth watching? Or can you easily hit skip? Read on find out.

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A Still from 'Mea Culpa' Photo: Netflix
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After many of his movies found a digital home on the OTT giant streaming platform Netflix, the multi-talented Tyler Perry is back with one more film, titled ‘Mea Culpa.’ When the trailer for the film released, it was described to a “crazy sexy thriller.” So, is the movie how the makers of it had wanted it to be? Here’s our take on it.

‘Mea Culpa’: Story

Mea Harper (Kelly Rowland) is a criminal defense attorney, who takes on the case of a famous artist, Zyair Malloy (Trevante Rhodes), who has been accused of murdering his girlfriend. Hesitant at first to represent him, Mea takes it up because first, her brother-in-law, Ray (Nick Sagar) is the prosecution, and second, she hates her matriarch of a mother-in-law, Azalia (Kerry O’Malley), who constantly belittles her. Despite all odds, she goes against her unemployed husband, Kal’s (Sean Sagar) wishes, and decides to defend Zyair, which pushes her down a dangerous road filled with lust.

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‘Mea Culpa’: Performances

Kelly Rowland as Mea Harper has only done what was asked of her. Her portrayal has been robotic. While, it’s shown that she is this strong, independent, financially-stable career-woman, she’s allowed to have emotions. But, her expressions have been monotonous. So, if she’s not feeling her character, how can viewers? Sure, she is a part of a terrible marriage, but at no point did I feel bad for her. She failed to evoke the right emotions in me; her portrayal of Mea just lacks the depth expected for such a role.   

The other main actor, Trevante Rhodes, who portrays the accused murderer Zyair, feels somewhat lacking. Although he’s good-looking, the makers seem to rely heavily on his character’s love for sex. He has no stand-out personality of his own, and is just seen as someone who is supposed to have chemistry with Mea. Maybe that’s the whole point of him being there. But even that seems to be missing. Their relationship, whether personal or professional, is so turbulent that it fails to create any real tension between them.

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The rest of the supporting cast has fairly done a decent job. Overall, I believe the performances could have been more convincing.  

‘Mea Culpa’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects

The whole story feels so rushed, so fast. It almost feels as if to wrap it up in span of two hours, Tyler Perry has made up these convenient plot twists because of which, there have been many loose-ends. However, those unresolved questions have also been dealt with in such a way that there doesn’t seem to be a hope for a sequel to the movie. There are moments where I found myself getting disconnected from the events happening. But, the biggest let-down was the plot twist towards the end, which came across as extremely random with no backdrop to it. Overall, the movie left me with many questions, with no one to answer those. Talking about Perry in the director’s chair, he has not exactly been able to work his way around the weak plot. While the film maintains a borderline watchable quality, the direction fails to elevate it beyond mediocrity. But for being a part of a genre that’s an ‘erotic thriller,’ there’s nothing thrilling or erotic about this film. The suspense could have been shed light upon more and as for the erotic scenes, well, it made me feel like crawling out of my own skin.

The camerawork by Cory Burmester has probably saved this movie, for whatever little part it has. The camera movements on the art pieces have been my most favourite. Each and every shot has been captured as a visual delight. Coming to the editing aspect, Larry Sexton’s skills were average, at best. There were many shots which changed in the blink of an eye. However, given the story didn’t execute the way the makers would have wanted it to play out; the decision to leave it at two hours seemed to be the right call.

The music, by Amanda Delores and Patricia Jones, has been on-point. With a mix of eerie and uplift beats, the soundtrack album also featured some other artists’ tunes. And as for fashion, I have to give it to the stylist – the outfits chosen for Kelly Rowland’s character are absolutely stunning; makes me want to shop for something similar right away!

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‘Mea Culpa’: Cast & Crew

Director: Tyler Perry

Cast: Kelly Rowland, Trevante Rhodes, Nick Sagar, Sean Sagar, RonReaco Lee, Shannon Thornton, Kerry O’Malley, Connor Weil, Angela Robinson

Available On: Netflix

Duration: 2 hours  

Premiere Date: February 23, 2024

Genre: Legal Thriller, Crime, Drama

Language: English

‘Mea Culpa’: Can Kids Watch It?

No.

Outlook’s Verdict

Tyler Perry’s ‘Mea Culpa’ is not everyone’s cup of tea. The film falls short of expectations because of its rushed narrative, weak characters and an abrupt plot twist, especially for a thriller film. As someone who was looking for a good Friday watch, the film left me somewhat disappointed. Though it’s a movie that is passable, it lacks the depth needed for a truly satisfying viewing experience.

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