The Photograph Is a Gratifying, Modern Version of a 1930s Hollywood Romance

Writer-director Stella Meghie’s romantic drama The Photograph is a lovely ghost of a movie, the kind of thing we used to call, in the days before the ascent of the superhero film, a popular entertainment. We get so few love stories today that it’s easy to forget they used to be a staple of the movie-release schedule; sometimes all you want is a chance to watch beautiful people meet, fall in love and break apart, only to be reunited (or not) in a way that feels gratifying. That’s what Meghie—whose credits include the comedies Jean of the Joneses (2016) and The Weekend (2018)—gives us here. The Photograph, both thoughtful and entertaining, with a pleasurably laid-back vibe, belongs to a class of movie that barely exists anymore on the big screen. It’s also a reminder that appealing actors are sometimes the best spectacle of all.

The Photograph is really two entwined love stories, one set in the present, the other in the late 1980s. Lakeith Stanfield plays Michael, a reporter for a New York-based magazine. On assignment in New Orleans, reporting on the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the area’s communities, he meets Isaac (Rob Morgan, in a fine, understated performance), a longtime resident with tales to tell. Isaac shows Michael a photograph of a woman he once loved, taken some 30 years earlier: This woman lounges in a regular kitchen chair, gazing at the camera’s lens, at us, with an uneasy mix of discontent and defiance. The subject of the photograph is a photographer herself, Christina (played, with radiant gravity, by Chanté Adams), who left Lousiana—and Isaac—for New York to pursue a dream career. Intrigued by the photograph, Michael sets out to learn more about Christina, and in the process meets her daughter, Mae (Issa Rae), a sophisticated museum curator. Mae isn’t sure she’ll ever be ready to commit to a guy, but we can see she’s as taken with Michael as he is with her. Shortly after their first meeting, he shows up at a museum event she hasn’t invited him to; their eyes meet, and the crowd of fancy-looking people milling about is virtually vaporized by the electricity between them. They flirt and share a first kiss. Later, weathering a Hurricane Sandy-like storm, they end up in bed. Both have their doubts about committing—Michael is still processing a recent breakup—but

Source:: Time – Entertainment


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