Why Do Fools Fall in Love is an unusual biopic…one that isn’t terribly interested about its subject. It’s more concerned with the various other lives which are intersected and thrown into turmoil.
Why Do Fools Fall in Love tells the story of singer Frankie Lymon (Larenz Tate), who in 1955 wrote his first smash hit (the title song), at the age of 13. However, his star burned bright and brief. He quickly spiraled into despair, drugs and death.
The film takes place in 1986, and reveals Frankie’s story in flashbacks. Many years after his death, Diana Ross performs a best-selling version of Why Do Fools Fall in Love…adding many dollars to Frankie’s previously bankrupt estate. Soon, there is not one, but three separate women who each claim to be Frankie’s widow, and entitled to the fortune.
One woman is Zola Taylor (Halle Berry), a singer with The Platters, who toured sometimes with Frankie. Another is Elizabeth Waters (Vivica A. Fox), a shoplifter who helps Frankie through the lowest valleys of his life. The third is Emira Eagle (Lela Rochon), a somewhat prissy schoolteacher who loved Frankie during his final days.
It’s difficult to point out exactly where Why Do Fools Fall in Love goes wrong. For starters, it drags on about a half an hour too long. Each woman tells her own story about Frankie Lymon, and by the time you’ve reached the second one, you’re ready for the film to end.
The film tries to portray Frankie in three different lights, as seen by each of his three “wives”. However, the pictures they paint aren’t as surprisingly dissimilar as they claim to be. Add to that the fact that Frankie never truly emerges as a compelling enough character for a two hour biopic, and you’re in for a long sit.
Still, although Larenz Tate is somewhat undefined in his role, the three lead actresses give it a good try. None of them are quite convincing in their “middle-aged” scenes set during the 1980s, however. Of the three, Vivica A. Fox has the juiciest role, and is quite convincing as the unlikely target of Frankie’s love who would (and does) do anything to prove her devotion.
Why Do Fools Fall in Love has an interesting concept, but is poorly executed. The film should have put more focus on Frankie, and why he was the way he was. Instead, we are left with a collection of fading memories that are never quite as vibrant when told second-hand.