It’s about time—that’s all I could think of after a recent screening of “The Photograph.” I was thankful that at last there was a movie about Black love. There have been a few, like “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and most recently, “Queen and Slim”—which was more of a dramatic romance—but lately, Black love stories have been hard to come by.
In the ’70s there were films like “Mahogany,” “Claudine” and “Sparkle” that showed aspects of Black love. In the ‘80s there was “She’s Gotta Have It” and “Coming to America,” which, at its core, was a love story.
But in the ‘90s, Black love was in abundance, revealing the complexities and humanity of Black folks through cinema. Movies like the classic “Love Jones,” “Waiting to Exhale,” “Boomerang,” “Jason’s Lyric,” and last but not least, “The Best Man,” were all made in the 1990s. The trend continued a bit with “Love & Basketball” in 2000 and “Brown Sugar” in 2002.
So it felt good to finally see a depiction of Black love again in “The Photograph” starring Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield. The movie showed that it is okay to be vulnerable and afraid of getting into a relationship and not knowing where you are going to land.
The basic premise of the film: Through a discovery of a photograph left by Mae’s (Rae) late, estranged mother Christine (Chanté Adams), a famed photographer, Mae is sent on a journey to learn more about her mom’s younger years. In the process, she meets Michael (Stanfield) and embarks on a romance. The film goes back and forth in time between Christine and Mae—two generations—as they both learn lessons of love and their stories intertwine in interesting ways.
The movie seemed to be a hit at the screening I attended. I caught up with a few moviegoers on the way out of the theater. Moviegoer Danita Jones commented, “It was really good. It had some comedic parts and it was a nice love story. It was a good date movie to go with your man or a good little chick-flick. It was a little slow at times, but I really liked it!”
I caught up with Emanuel and Camilla Oresanya who also enjoyed the film. “It was a brilliant piece,” said Emanuel. “We loved it.” Camilla added that she wasn’t sure if the relationship mistakes made by the mother (Christine) were the daughter’s (Mae) burdens to bear, but “I still enjoyed the film,” she said.
Moviegoer Cecilia Clements added, “Loved the movie. Very captivating. I loved the two stories at the same time and just how complicated relationships are. We need more films like this.”
“The Photograph” is a must-see movie. Writer and director Stella Meghie, a Canadian Black filmmaker on the rise, sent us to a place we have not been in a while—a place where we can laugh, cry, and imagine what it can be like to be in love.
“The Photograph” opened February 14 with a $12M weekend box office tally and a total gross of $17M to date. Go to www.thephotographmovie.com for more movie info. Check local listings for showtimes.