THE PHOTOGRAPH: black cinema just got real!

The Photograph is an instant classic… it really does feel like real black cinema is finally here! It tells the story of a museum curator Mae (Issa Rae) and journalist Michael (Lakeith Stanfield), who fall for each other while Michael is working on a story that brings them together. The movie is also unique as it jumps back and forth between the 1980s and present day. It also captures the sentiment of a love between Christina, Mae’s mother and Isaac.

THE PHOTOGRAPH was a classic. Here’s why…

First of all, this movie is written and directed by a black woman, Stella Megghie. You can always know when a movie is directed by a black person because it is more authentic. The Photograph is light and fun with no trauma or racism. It is just a love story that alternates between two generations, a mother that lost love and a daughter that finds love. A shoutout to Stella Megghie for killing this. The important thing to note here is black people usually complain that movies out of Hollywood are either about drug dealing black people or even worse, slavery stories! What’s even more amazing about this movie is that it’s not some hero saving a damsel in distress. Mae and Michael are ordinary black people with normal jobs. The Photograph is a relatable love story that happens to have a black cast. Personally, the movie hit home for me as it raised questions that I struggle with.

Are we going to find love or are we going to repeat our parents’ mistakes?

Secondly, the Music selection is off the hook! The sound tracks are essentially black musicians intertwined between the past and the present. The music was carefully selected to add a layer of black culture to this movie that many black people can appreciate. For instance, Anita Baker is a musician more important to black people than white. Some of the other musicians either referenced to or whose music plays in the movie include H.E.R, Solange, Patti Labelle, Karyn White, Chicago boy, Chaka Kahn, Rufus, Al Green. Ari Lennox, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, Lucky Daye, Ramaj, Robert Glasper, J.Cole, Kendrick, Drake and so many others.

Finally, the acting is great! The comedy parts within the movie are very natural… and refreshing to see. It’s enjoyable to see the chemistry develop between Mae (Issa Rae) and Michael (Lakeith Stanfield). Issa is great to watch (she’s real black girl magic) and seeing Lakeith here highlights how versatile his acting is. It’s easy to see how Issa Rae and Lakeith are easily on their way as great actors/ actresses of our generation. Each and every member of the cast brought a significant element to the story to make it come alive. Some of the cast include Chante Adams, Lil Rey, Teyonah Parris, Chelsea Peretti, Jasmine Jones, Kelvin Harrison, Rob Morgan, Courtney Vance, Y’lan Noel, Wakeema Hollis, Marsha Blake, Christopher Cassarino and so many others.

The Photograph is not a dramatic, super exhilarating movie. In fact it’s a little slow, but definitely sweet and sincere as it keeps your eyes glued to the screen. This is what’s most lovable about it (especially as I am a black woman) because real life is not as dramatic or as exhilarating! It’s definitely worth a trip to the cinema and we need more movies like THE PHOTOGRAPH.


Changing the narrative. Telling my African story

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