Lisa Fremont’s review published on Letterboxd:
The shaving scene is spectacular and there are a couple of other moments that stand out, plus it’s an empowering tale that seeks to eliminate harmful stereotypes surrounding black people, which it does beautifully. Unfortunately though, it feels like a lot of important information was lost in the editing room, resulting in a choppy and uneven narrative.
Additionally, director Haifaa Al-Mansour struggles at times to make some of the intimate moments sink in. The kissing scene comes to mind—as Will and Violet embrace, the camera is kept at an uncomfortable angle and distance, which for me not only undercuts the significance of the scene, but also gives the viewer a weird sensation of spying on them (which I know wasn't the intention).
I also feel that under different direction Sanaa Lathan could’ve really blown me away. We get a glimpse of how good she—and the whole movie—could have been in the previously mentioned shaving scene but unfortunately both the quality of her performance and the dramatic weight of the story don't hold up as much throughout.
In short, Nappily Ever After is still inspirational and thoroughly enjoyable but unfortunately it just misses the opportunity to be something truly outstanding. Pointers for making me feel guilty about straightening my puffy hair every week, even if I'm not the intended audience.