The first time Steven Spielberg mistook seriousness for art. His problematic adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pultizer Prize-winning novel is an obvious mismatch of director and material, not that this saga could easily be translated to the screen by anyone. Purple follows most of the tragic life of a Southern black woman (Whoopi Goldberg) in early 20th century America who is repeatedly victimized, mostly by lecherous men. The acting – especially Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery – is stellar, and Spielberg has too much talent to not provide visual grace notes here and there, but rarely does the trauma of the story feel authentic. He never rises above being a talented director for hire.