July 99 Reviews
Why do fools Fall in Love

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By Nasser Metcalf

Credits: Directed by Gregory Nava. Written by Tina Andrews Produced by Paul Hall and Stephen Nemeth

Cast: Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox, Lela Rochon, and Lorenz Tate

At the tender age of twenty-six, Sixties soul music sensation Frankie Lymon overdosed on heroin. He left the world to its imagination about what could have become of the boy wonder had he lived. The Warner Brothers film Why Do Fools Fall in Love, named after Lymon's biggest hit song, tells his story from the perspective of three people who knew him best-his wives. You see, Frankie Lymon was many things to many people and it was revealed posthumously that he was a husband to three women. Legally speaking, Frankie Lymon had been simultaneously married to Zola Taylor, a glamorous singer in her own right, Elizabeth Waters, a petty thief with a big heart, and Emira Eagle, a southern school teacher with high principles. Four stellar African American actors came together to bring this historic story to film. It is an incredible assemblage of some of Hollywood's brightest stars. The sexy and superbly talented Halle Berry portrays Zola Taylor, the alluring lead singer of the legendary "Platters." Vivica A. Fox brilliantly combines humor with around-the-way edginess to effectively portray Elizabeth Waters, the street-smart woman who stood by Lymon when times were the worst. Lela Rochon adopts Emira Eagle's southern belle persona so fully that it's hard to believe this is the same woman who tantalized us as the Harlem sex goddess, Sunshine, in Harlem Nights. And, finally, as the talented man whose depth and complexity couldn't be reflected by just one woman, the multi-talented Larenz Tate stars as Frankie Lymon.

Fall in Love opens in the early eighties when Diana Ross's remake of the title song ruled the airwaves and generated considerable royalties for the Frankie Lymon estate. When it's discovered that Lymon was married to three women, it falls upon the courts to determine which ex-wife is the heir and therefore entitled to the wealth of the estate. During the trial, Frankie Lymon's life story is told through the court testimony of his wives and a corresponding series of flashbacks. We see him as a young adult struggling to get his group, "The Teenagers," a big break. We see his star rise and fall as he succumbs to the pitfalls of drug addiction. We also get an intimate look at the redemption he found in the love of three different women.

While the movie boasts an impressive array of African American talent in the form of supporting roles, the four principals seem to have been waiting for just this type of opportunity to flex their acting muscles. Each of the lead actors turns in a riveting performance and seems to fully connect with his or her respective characters. Baby-faced Larenz Tate, as the protagonist, displays a range of emotions that speaks volumes about his talent as an actor.

A compelling, true story of an African American musical legend and the three women who loved him, Fools is a well-acted and entertaining film.

Cast Interviews:
Nasser Metcalf of blackfilm.com had an opportunity to talk to these four remarkable individuals about their experience with the film. Come "Behind the scenes" to hear what they had to say...

See Behind the Scenes w/ Halle & Lela in the Features Section

And next issue: Vivica & Larenz


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