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A woman loses her way as she seduced by smooth billionaire that puts her marriage and her very soul at risk in thriller-drama, Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.
This cautionary-relationship tale begins with a War of the Roses-esque flashback told through the eyes of the sister of the main character, Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and her whirlwind romance with her childhood sweetheart, Bryce (Lance Gross). Raised with solid spiritual values, the couple are watched and prayed over by Judith’s mom Sara (Ella Joyce).
The two marry and leave their country cocoon and move to the Nation’s Capital where Bryce goes to work as a pharmacist at a neighborhood drug store and Judith works as a therapist for a high-profile match-making company. In an office where “degrees don’t mean anything without labels on your back,” Judith sticks out like a sore thumb from her well-dressed citified colleagues. Over the objections of her highly-stylized but vacuous friend, Ava (Kim Kardashian), Judith refuses to succumb to their sinful and unnecessary desires for her to update her stodgy wardrobe and attitude.
The very thing that makes her different is what catches the eye of handsome billionaire social media mogul, Harley (Robbie Jones) who is instantly smitten with the very married therapist.
Judith sees right through Harley’s advances is able to hold the silver-tongue devil at bay . . . until her husband begins to take her for granted. Perry draws the Bryce character as a brainless but loyal boob, who routinely forgets his wife’s birthdays and is absolutely clueless that she is unhappy. By the time he buys a clue, she has been swept off her feet by trips on private jets, being wined and dined at expensive restaurants or rolling around in Harley’s apple red Ferrari.
Perry’s 13th film clearly shows his evolution as a storyteller and the first two-thirds of the film show him at his best, weaving this tale of intrigue and forbidden desire. While the film is populated by several actors who turn in solid work in limited roles, among them Brandy Norwood, Vanessa Williams and Kardashian, the story really focuses on four characters – Judith, Harley, Bryce and Sara.
Serving as the spiritual guide of the film, Sara guides the audience through the tale as the only one who sees Harley for what and who he truly is. Where Perry’s Madea character constantly butchers bible verses for comic relief, Sara uses the scripture to warn her overwhelmed daughter and the audience about his evil intentions.
Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor is Perry’s best film but the celebrated director is still in search of a complete movie. Smollett-Bell’s character seems to get dumber and Gross more in the dark the further the story develops. Despite that, the film succeeds in ways that previous works from the director have fallen flat. For the first time, I confess that Perry didn’t leave me wanting . . . just wanting to see him create a great film!!!