“Corrina, Corrina” is a really wonderful, sweet, from the heart movie that tackles the issue of love between two people from a different angle. It takes place in 1959 America, and thus during segregation and before the Civil Rights Acts. It is about a young white man, Manny Singer (Ray Liotta) who loses his wife and has a seven year old daughter Molly to take care of. He needs a nanny and so after several interviews with very inappropriate white candidates, he choses Corrina Washginton (Whoopie Goldberg).
Corrina is a college graduate and completely overqualified for the job, but because she is black, she has to settle for what she can get. She is repeatedly rejected for jobs and colums she wants to write because of her race and her sister tells her to stop trying.
Manny is closed-off and just like anyone who loses a loved-one, he is mostly on auto-pilot: doing what he needs to do every day but finding no joy in it.
Molly has stopped speaking ever since her mother passed away and is also closing in on herself. Manny is desperate and sad about his daughter’s situation but does not know how to get to her.
All this changes, at least for Molly, when Corrina comes into their lives. Soon she is able to win Molly’s trust, who starts speaking again, and she also surprises Manny as she is not only warm, witty, and sensitive but also educated, cultured and well-rounded, able to have the kind of conversation most white folks probably didn’t think a black woman could have with her corporate-world boss.
A sort of family-dynamic between the three develops, and Corrina even takes Molly to her sister’s place and has her play with her nieces and nephews. Over time, Corrina and Manny grow closer but because this is 1950s America and racism pretty much institutionalized, a romantic relationship seems out of the question. This movie explorers these themes of racism, love and romance as well as loss in a very delicate way.
I must say the best part of the movie is toward the end, when Manny just doesn’t care anymore about what other people think and hugs Corrina right in front of the house, in public. It is a warm, tight, meaningful hug in which he holds on to her. Their love for one another, or Manny’s love for Corrina, is sincere and the fact that she is played by Whoopie Goldberg, as opposed to let’s say Halle Berry or Vanessa Williams or Jada Pinkett-Smith, really is what makes Manny’s love for Corrina believable.
If Manny had fallen in love with some gorgeous ex supermodel turned actress type, no one would be surprised. I mean segregation or not, who wouldn’t fall for Halle Berry, right?
But the fact that he falls in love with someone like Whoopie Goldberg, who is not a beauty icon, really is evidence to the fact that he has fallen in love with her as opposed to her looks primarily. And that is where the strength of this movie lies: it is sincere.
The producers and writers did a great job casting Goldberg for this role. Had they cast any other black actress for the role, like those gorgeous types, the story and feel of the movie would just have come out very differently.
Unfortunately they don’t make movies with such substance anymore. Most actors cast today, even in genre and time-specific pieces, just are not real anymore. No matter what they play, you can see the Hollywood starlet in there still.
Not in this movie and that is why it is so special: it draws on and projects real feelings people can identify with as opposed to just coming across as another far-fetched, glamorous and mostly unrealistic Hollywood romance between two pretty, fit, happy people who….surprise, surprise…find each other.
Corrina, Corrina is a warm movie that never feels forced, acted or sappy – even though the theme could easily go there. Personally I find Whoopie Goldberg nothing but pure delight. If I was a man, I would totally fall in love with this amazing woman.