When famed photographer Christina Eames unexpectedly dies, she leaves her estranged daughter Mae Morton hurt, angry and full of questions. When a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box is found, Mae finds herself on a journey delving into her mother’s early life and ignites a powerful, unexpected romance with a rising-star journalist, Michael Block.
It’s no surprise that around, or in this case on, the holiday of hearts and roses that we get a movie that focuses on the L-word. Love, duh! However, unlike many movies in this genre, The Photograph is something that feels authentic and deep. It’s not filled with cheap jokes or an overly cheesy storyline. The story is filled with heart, effortless chemistry, and black love executed in a way that we don’t get to see often. While not a comedy, there are honest laughs that add to the story’s authenticity. While some moments are so palpable that it feels like you’re peeking through a window instead of looking at a screen. The love that marinates is complex and striking while also being very modern.
The story is a great mixture of fling and forever. With it’s mellow and earnest approach paired with music composed by Robert Glasper, the film is smooth like warm silk against cold skin. Along with the acting is amazing and really locks you in. Overall, I felt that it wanted to convey the importance of honesty, and downfalls of regret. Also, there are themes of embracing openness and being vulnerable enough to accept the love you want.
Nevertheless, the movie has its faults. At times, the movie is a little too aloof to the point that you begin to wonder why the title is what it is. The story feels like it’s not sure where it wants to go with two plots that never quite merge. Apart from that, it’s a true romance film, so if you’re not into that kind of thing then this isn’t for you. However, it is enjoyable and your date will love it. Date movie gold.
Plot & Pace
The pacing of this movie is like slow dancing to jazz. It allows the characters to breathe and really get to the core of who they are. There are two main plots, the photograph along with its history, and the unexpected love connection between the two main characters and how they came to meet. The story begins with Michael Block, a writer from New York doing a piece in Louisana on life after hurricanes and floods. He stumbles upon some outstanding photography while doing an interview that sparks his interests. Then we have a New York art curator named Mae Morton who finds a box filled with photos and letters from her late mother that leave her with questions that need answers too. With flashbacks as to how things came to be, we really get an understanding of one of some of our characters that also adds intrinsic mystery to others.
Characters & Chemistry
LaKeith Stanfield is becoming one of Hollywood’s best. He has such range and excels in every role he is in; this role is no different. His performance as Michael Block, an intelligent writer and ladies man is perfect. The chemistry with Mae (Issa Rae) is so pure. From the way they looked at each other to their body language, it felt extremely real. They gave the type of performances that lead you to believe they are dating in reality. Mae is in search of answers that she doesn’t know the answers to, while Michael has a go with flow kind of personality. Lil Rel Howery as Michael is the movie’s levity as well as its voice of reason at times. There are also great performances by Y’lan Noel and Chante Adams.
The Photograph releases in theaters on February 14th. Enjoy the movie.
Director: Stella Meghie
Writer: Stella Meghie
Runtime: 1h 46m
Rating: 3 out of 5