Once upon a time, a man I know grabbed my hand to cross a street in Manhattan it felt like he had been holding my hand for eternity. It was a connected feeling of love I had never felt before or since. That feeling infused with the excitement, fireworks and joy that only falling in love can bring.
Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Something New and If Beale Street Could Talk are films that bring a smile to my face and heart reminding me finding, fostering and cherishing one’s true love is possible if you get out of your own way. It also reminds me how much audiences of color crave images of ‘us’ falling in love in cinema. An image that is all too far, few and in-between. Thanks to Stella Meghie and Universal Pictures, we have another well-scripted, crafted, acted, directed love story starring dark-skinned beauties and undeniable talents Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield.
Produced by Will Packer (Girls Trip, Little, Straight Outta Compton) and set in New York City, we learn that Mae Morton (Issa Rae) is coping with the sudden death of her mother, Christina Eames (Chanté Adams), a legendary photographer. Christina leaves Mae a stack of vintage photos along with a letter that reads, “My daughter, I put my love into photographs, pictures, took space in my heart instead of people,” leading Mae on a journey to uncover her mom’s past and what her love life was like. Enter Michael Block (Lakeith Stanfield), ironically is a journalist working on story about Mae’s mother. Told via flashback scenes, we learn about her mother’s own romantic history and a twist that will make your jaw drop.
Infused with a bluesy, jazz score (featuring Four-time Grammy nominated Lucky Daye’s “Fade Away”) and a supporting cast (Lil’ Rel Howery, Teynonah Parris, Rob Morgan, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., Wakeema Hollis) make this film a warm, loving trip into how the past informs the present, how love, regardless of race, is complex, multi-dimensional and multi-faceted on levels one could never see coming unless you are in it. Yet, one of the most important lessons from this film is the strength black women exude when it comes to self-preservation, family and career.
The Photograph literally lifts and elevates love with the perfect, heartfelt tale of what happens when you end up with your soul mate instead of a mate who leaves you soulless. Take your sweetie or grab your squad to check it out when it drops on Valentine’s Day.