Friday, February 14, 2020

Review: The Photograph

Release date: February 14, 2020
Running time: 106 minutes
Starring: LaKeith Stanfield, Issa Rae, Chelsea Peretti 

The Photograph tells an unrealistic romantic drama with realistic characters.  Michael (Stanfield) is a talented writer working on a story about loss in Louisiana.  Mae (Rae) is an art museum curator who happens to be the daughter of a talented photographer.  The two's paths cross due to Mae's mother's photography, leading the two into a complicated relationship.  

The Photograph's main story is actually two stories in one: part of it is the story of Michael and Mae; the other part is an important relationship for Mae's mother.  These stories are told in increments, with flashbacks from the main story occurring to flesh out more of Mae's mother's life.  Despite these stories taking place decades apart, they deal with similar themes.  Learning more about Mae's mother's life helps to understand Mae's perspective; seeing the choices and sacrifices she made helps flesh out Mae's character.  And these characters are very well realized.  They thankfully do not follow your typical relationship movie tropes and feel much more authentic than you would normally get.  Aside from Michael and Mae, there are a few additional characters that help move the story and Michale and Mae's relationship along.  Additionally, some provide comic relief, particularly Michael's brother (Lil Rel Howery).  His lines and entertainment are especially entertaining and his humor helps to humanize these characters.  

These realistic characters also have mostly believable dialog.  There are some cheesy romantic movie lines, but for the most part the dialog is smart and well thought out.  But one of the most impressive aspects of this film is the soundtrack.  There is a mix of jazz, blues, and hip-hop (sometimes in the same songs) to really provide some exciting ambiance to the film.  The soundtrack is not overpowering, but it is essentially to set the mood and give insight into what is happening on screen.  The one negative about The Photograph is that the story is a long one with some pacing issues.  The movie starts off slowly, which I appreciate, but unfortunately slows down in the middle of the film as well.  However, this should not dissuade you from seeing this film.  The Photograph provides a fresh perspective on a romantic drama, with an all black cast and some aspects that take sharp deviations from your typical romantic movie plot.  

The Photograph provides a fresh romantic drama, with realistic characters in a modern story layered with an amazing jazz and hip-hop soundtrack and believable dialog.

Watch It

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