Tyler Perry seduces fans with the twists in his latest thriller ‘Mea Culpa’

Kelly Rowland as Mea Harper with Trevante Rhodes as Zyair Malloy in a scene from ‘Mea Culpa’.

Kelly Rowland as Mea Harper with Trevante Rhodes as Zyair Malloy in a scene from ‘Mea Culpa’.

Published Mar 5, 2024


If you are watching a Tyler Perry movie, you are either going to love or loathe it.

I’m a fan of his offerings from his hugely successful “Madea” franchise, “Daddy Little Girls”, “Good Deeds” and “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” to “Acrimony”.

The stories are underpinned by themes that resonate with an audience that understands poverty, GBV, love, trust, betrayal, family bonds, friendships, power struggles and internal conflicts.

His latest feature, “Mea Culpa”, has thrown viewers and critics for a loop. Allow me to explain.

The film is anchored by Destiny Child’s Kelly Rowland as Mea Harper, a leading criminal defence attorney. Married to Kal (Sean Sagar), they are going through a rough patch.

Kelly Rowland with Sean Sagar in a scene from Mea Culpa.

Mea is the breadwinner as Kal has lost his job due to a substance abuse problem.

They are helping pay for the cancer treatment for his overbearing mother, Azalia Hawthorne (Kerry O'Malley).

With unpaid bills piling, Mea is buckling under the financial strain. And their couple’s therapy sessions to resolve the issues in their marriage aren’t working either.

When Zyair Malloy (Trevante Rhodes), a high-profile artist accused of murdering his girlfriend, seeks out her help, Mea agrees despite it ruffling feathers in the family as her assistant DA brother-in-law, Ray (Nick Sagar), is prosecuting the case. He is trying to leverage a win to elevate his career.

Ray also happens to be married to her best friend, Charlise (Shannon Thornton).

The brothers are close to their mother, who is a spitfire of note. She’s bossy, insufferable and demeaning to their wives.

Mea enlists the help of her trusted best friend Jimmy (RonReaco Lee), who is a brilliant private investigator, on the case.

Kelly Rowland with Shannon Thornton in a scene from ‘Mea Culpa’.

While trying to build Zyair’s defence, he tries to seduce Mea. And in a moment of weakness and misunderstanding, she succumbs to his advances.

This is when everything goes haywire.

Her brother-in-law exposes her infidelity. And a woman from Zyair’s past reveals his modus operandi when it comes to romancing women.

In trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, Mea takes a break and removes herself from the case.

But a chance meeting with a crucial witness in Zyair’s forces Mea to return. What she uncovers, though, is more terrifying than she could ever have imagined.

The film starts on an interesting and complex note and it does lose a bit of momentum with the seduction of Mea and her guilt thereafter, only to redeem itself with a disturbing climax.

Rowland plays her powerhouse role with finesse and grace.

Perry likes to keep the audience on their toes. And he certainly pulls it off here, even though he loses them for a short while.

In the movie, he looks at empowerment, friendship, deception and ruthless ambition.

∎ “Mea Culpa” is streaming on Netflix.