THE PHOTOGRAPH (2020)

Written & Directed By: Stella Meghie 
Cinematography: Mark Schwartzbard 
Editor: Shannon Baker Davis 

Cast: Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield, Chante Adams, Y’Lan Noel, Kelvin Harrison jr., Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Rob Morgan, Courtney B. Vance, Chelsea Peretti 

A series of intertwining love stories set in the past and in the present.


The reason I really wanted this film to work. Is that it is rare that you see black romance onscreen. There are films that have it but they only Come around once a decade. As usually on film they just fall in love and get married as part of a bigger story or they are already married and friends to other people in the movie. A supporting character usually having a wife or girlfriend. Or they are the arguing couple or their relationship is more comedic throughout. Never quite deep and never truly showing love and definitely not romance.

 As it makes or seem like the characters are more materialistic, a sexual, sexual only or shallow. It rarely celebrates the beauty of black characters making it seem like they are only as worthy as their looks or body parts.

This leads to a lack of representation again and leaves black people with very few examples of on-screen love. Which might be why at times and at large it seems to be a rarity onscreen and off at times also.

This film at least tries to work against the negative stereotypes and represent and present a love story that doesn’t rely on race heavily but is a black film Romance. With beautiful artistic characters.

So while this film is a romantic drama. what doesn’t precisely work is that it has two love stories that parallel one another and are supposed to complement each other as well as tell their own and nurture one another. The problem is that the one from the past is so much deeper and more felt throughout. 

While the modern romance is similar it doesn’t feel as deep. As it happens faster and doesn’t have any challenges until towards  the end. Leaving it more bland and quite frankly a bit dull. 

There are no hardships for the romance really because as soon as they see one another we know this is meant to be. While the flashbacks to older characters which is the reason they met and came together in the first place. Has so much drama and meaning. It makes the modern one feel a bit empty.

Though at least we get to see the thrill of the chase at the beginning of their courtship. Trying to impress or. Another and be witty. It also lets us see their passion for one another and the reasons they and their romance grows 

The film might have been stronger if rather than treating it as a puzzle and parallel if the older story was told first and then see how it affects the modern in bits. Though it seems it is there to show parallels as well as keep the story motivated as a kind of mystery.

Either way the film definitely has a cultured vibe and mood throughout with a great jazz soundtrack. It’s nice to see a film of black professionals who are upwardly mobile and successful more upper-middle class. 

One only wishes the modern-day Romance was stronger.

If i had to describe this movie with one word soulful.

Grade: C+

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