Disclaimer: Spoiler Alert – This blog may dish some details from the movie. If you have not watched Girls Trip as yet, please read at your own discretion.
*Be prepared for outrageous (somewhat stereotypical and excessive) scenes of strong language and sexual content in the film. Let the record show, I gave you notice!
The latest chick flick landed in our theatres here in Barbados is Girls Trip: a hilarious and revelatory weekend for four reunited besties in New Orleans at the annual Essence Music Festival. A top notch cast of Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish portray educated women leading vastly different lives, who come together to rekindle their college/university sisterhood days for old times’ sake. The perfect setup for some good-girlfriend-realness to unfold.
The theatre was packed with ladies and their besties (and some boyfriends as well) all eager to see how this one weekend would play out. Dare I say, none were disappointed as this movie did hit some key areas in the female-friendship dynamic that made me go ‘Yea, this is definitely a sisterhood movie!’ with loads drama and saucy bits for much impact in the R-Rated film. What really sparked my desire to write about this movie is to examine a few themes present that were interesting.
A Merge between Life as We Know It and Celebrity Life.
The characters in a nutshell:
Ryan (Regina): Married with no children, relationship coach and bestselling author of the book ‘You Can Have it All’ on a book-tour with a huge secret.
Sasha (Latifah): Single, debt riddled, reluctant Gossip columnist looking for her next ‘saving grace’ story.
Lisa (Jada): Divorced mother of two, nurse, living with mother, shut down her femininity after heartbreak and needs to lighten up.
Dina (Tiffany): Single, recently unemployed, honestly out-of-control in every sense but understands the power and preciousness of friendship. She is the crazy-fun kind!
Give these characters an exclusive weekend in New Orleans at Essence Fest and it’s only a matter of time before the cat-fights, shady comments, tun-ups, old-dirt, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, exposed secrets, honesty, laughter, fun, reconciliation and love happens. Heck, it made me wish I had a girl’s trip planned in my calendar.
Just when you think celebrities (Ryan was fast becoming famous) must experience a different kind of friendship dynamic than you are, this movie explores how similar they can be with the major difference being affluence (which makes the stakes for celebs much higher). The story these four characters share: the ‘Flossy Possie’ dorm room besties, all grown up and attempting to reconnect in a real way after five years of distance; could be the story some of us share with the women in our lives. We were tight in school, graduated, and then life coupled with our own goals made us distant.
Our present friendships could be anywhere on that spectrum today and this movie was an excellent reminder to stay connected with the great women we have in our lives. Women who allow us to be our true selves in their presence, they know us and we know them so we can’t hide, genuine, supportive, ride or die, ‘we aren’t blood but we are sisters’ friends. Bear in mind that maintaining those friendship won’t be easy. Life will definitely test them and impact how little or how much we stay in contact but many times, the staunch women in our lives that we call our besties will always be the kind of woman we can count on when we need them. Time, space or affluence should not change that when lifelong friendships are real.
Affluent or celebrity women need those kinds of friendships as well to help them weather the storms that come with a high-profile status. The tight-knit bees’ nest of the Kardashians is a good example of this. They are not super women, they just face different life dynamics. No wonder Rihanna made sure her entourage carried long-time best friend Melissa and other family members and friends from home that, we can only assume, she trusts with her life. We all need that cushion of female-friendships in our lives.
Ryan’s Façade for the Sake of Her Career
We can tell from the narration that this movie is really about the life of Ryan Pierce. A beautiful woman who married well (retired football player) and they built a lifestyle that hordes of women dream of every night. She is a relationship coach on a book tour that is constantly opening more and more lucrative opportunities for her and her husband. She is practically the bread-winner with her husband as the sidekick for good publicity. Oh yea. Very quickly we begin to catch a vibe from their marriage that rang to the tune of ‘All that glitters isn’t gold’. When the offer to be the keynote speaker at Essence Fest arose, Ryan thinks this is the perfect time to wrangle up the three women in her life that she misses dearly. So that’s the back story.
Their first day in New Orleans started very eventful when Sasha gets a photo from a paparazzi contact of Ryan’s husband Stewart and a woman (who is then found out to be an Instagram model) in an intimate moment. Mutual friend Dina literally blurts out to Ryan that her husband is cheating on her and we all hold our breath for the outcome. Here it is: RYAN ALREADY KNOWS! And has known for two years that her husband has been having many extra marital affairs but she has a coping mechanism which allows her to keep her image as happily married and credibility as a relationship coach. Queue the irony! So does she really have it all like her book states?
The simple answer is no! She is a neatly manufactured façade of a woman in a marriage that is tearing at the core of her soul. She is a master actress and convinces her readers that she is the woman she wrote about: a woman who can have a booming career, happy marriage, great friends and plans to start a family on the agenda. We find out later in the movie that Ryan is also unable to have children even though she has tried everything to make motherhood happen. Rough! She is a beautifully crafted lie packaged and sold to the women she wants to inspire. Does this sound familiar to any of us?
We follow celebs, favourite authors, singers and Instagram motivationalist looking at their lives and desperately wanting it to be ours! We read their books, readily take their opinions and worship the appeal of their image and relationships, never really knowing what the truth looks like for them when the camera is off. It was sobering and made me remember why I took a break from social media for a while. People will show you what you want to see about them because that’s the best way to build a following and keep us loyal. Their ‘perfectly curated’ highlight reel is not the whole truth, only a small part and many of them will admit to that. However, that does not change the effect it has on our minds when that’s all we see. I want to love my own life, not wish it was someone else.
Ryan’s life is plagued with romantic emptiness, teeth-gnashing manipulations and emotional abuse from a husband who does not love her but holds her and her career for ransom to keep him in her life and money. After ‘slipping up’, he would tell her that she needs him because there is “no Ryan without Stewart” (in terms of public image). He is so trifling! Ryan is the image of many successful and not-so-successful women who have lost sight of their worth for the sake of an image of happiness. Women who fear a life of loneliness and make themselves willing to put up with a man and his mess, intentionally hurting them on chronic proportions. They buy into the lie that they cannot succeed without that man or that is better to have a bad man than none at all, so they find ways to cope. This gave me pause.
The movie plays on the notion of women actually being able to have it all and what that could look like. It made me think: Is all what I really want? If so, why do I want it all? Is it because someone made me believe I couldn’t? If I have it all, does that mean I proven someone wrong? Sure, we have heard many quotes from other affluent women saying “Yes. We can have it all, just not all at once” but at what cost? Who is really determining the all that I am supposed to have as woman? Me or a societal precept to make me feel equal to men? Deep questions for the next girl talk session.
A few days ago, I was talking to my leader and he said something simple but true.
Many times, we don’t even know what we really want. We say we do but our hearts can deceive us as well.
Major reality check!
Deep inside, Ryan really wanted to be a loved woman, a genuine inspiration to her readers and a good friend. That doesn’t sound like all but it’s enough for her. Maybe that is her all. I don’t ever want to be a woman who feels like she has to lie to herself to keep the things she has. That is not a full existence and it definitely is not healthy. Living in fear is not a life and many times it will cost you much more than your career or money. It costs you your happiness and peace of mind and they are way too valuable for that!
Marriage – A Union turn Contract
Ryan’s genius coping mechanism was to turn her marriage into a contract. She realized her husband’s infidelity issues were fast becoming the new norm for him and she needed to find a way to keep the façade undisturbed by the truth. Actually, there is nothing that states that she is the one who came up with this cock-a-mi-mi plan. For all we know, her husband could have been the brain child, the movie never makes it clear whose idea it was. Nonetheless, she agrees and is the only one honouring the rules and holding up her end of the bargain. The terms: He keeps his side-chicks under wraps and in order (out of the public eye) and she continues to have her façade intact. It’s clear this agreement is already to her determent from the get-go.
It all comes crashing down when his current side-chick becomes more persistent and begins showing up unannounced and crashing the façade in public. She is pregnant and wants her dues from Stewart. When we think Ryan has had enough, her husband reminds her of all she stands to lose if they don’t make this façade work. Especially when the offer of a well-paying reality show comes on the table. Stewart wants to have his cake and eat it too; side-chick and the spoils of his wife’s hard work. There is no love in his heart for Ryan. Only a contract that gives him what he wants, even when he does not honour his side. This is huge warning for all of us: Don’t try to make a marriage into a business deal. One party will always lose. Where love would give up selfish comforts for the happiness of the other person, business partnerships say ‘You do your part and I’ll do mine. If not, I’m out.’ Even though Ryan was in a contract, she still operated as a woman who loved her husband. The same was not true for Stewart. It was more about business and selfishness to him.
Knowing Your Worth Enough to Keep It
It is time for Ryan to make her keynote speech to hundreds of women waiting to hear what she has to say on the freshly dropped scandal. It’s all planned. The speech denies all allegations of the scandal and Ryan is doing a hell-of-a-job convincing everyone, right up until her three besties barge into her speech wearing bedazzled Flossy Possie denim jackets that Lisa made for each of them. It’s that moment when Ryan has to choose; continue with a lie or regain the woman she once was. Her friends standing in the isle reminds her of the freedom that comes when you can’t hide the truth from those who love you. And so, infront of an entire audience, she recants her speech and tells the whole truth. A riveting speech indeed as she encourage every woman to never let others tell them ‘you can’t’. They are the one who possess the ability to choose and make it happen. She spoke to them but we know she was really speaking to herself. Where Ryan believed that she was not strong enough to face life without her lie, her friends gave her the chance to see how powerful she really was on the inside. She was still Ryan Pierce, a woman, author and relationship coach. This time she learned how take her own advice and trusted the support of her friends. Her honesty and obvious motion for divorce made her even more successful as the single women’s market is a larger demographic. Way to go Ryan!
The moral of this story?
Good girlfriends aren’t perfect but they are women worth fighting to keep in your life.
‘Having it all’ sounds great but always be mindful of how much all can cost you. Maybe you can determine how much all means.
Fear of being alone will paralyze you from living a full life.
It’s important to know your worth and be willing to let go those who seek to undermine it.