The Photograph (2020 film) - Wikipedia
The Photograph – 2020

Written and Directed by Stella Meghie
Starring Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield, Chelsea Peretti, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Chanté Adams, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Lil Rey Howery, Teyonah Parris, Rob Morgan, Y’lan Noel, Dakota Paradise, Courtney B. Vance

In this time of endless Hallmark style romances, it’s nice to see two beautiful people fall in something that looks, feels and hurts like real love. The Photograph is a lesson from one generation to another.

Mae (Rae) is the daughter of a couple that never followed through on the promise of their relationship. She is content in her ignorance until her mother Christina (Adams) passes away and gives her two letters. One is for her to read, and the other is for Isaac (Morgan, Noel), the father Mae never knew. The reason for this is her mother thinking that she would just confuse her daughter and make Isaac just hurt more after she left him for a job as photographer in New York.

Years pass, and a young journalist, Michael comes across a picture of Christina while interviewing Isaac about Hurricane Katrina. Michael’s investigation leads him to Mae and immediately both are smitten. What follows is a meditation on love in two time periods, Mae’s and her mother’s.

Each of relationships have the spectre of work opportunities looming overhead. One of the two has a destination that pulls them away for opportunity. Whereas the older Isaac realizes his mistake in not striking when he has a chance, Michael thinks there is a chance for a relationship despite the distance.

LaKeith Stanfield is one of my favorite actors, and here he has found someone whose chemistry is a perfect match. Like Stanfield, Rae is able to act effectively sans discussion. We don’t get a flurry of words, because we don’t need them if we look into each of their eyes. They wear their experience all over their whole countenance and bodies. We know what they will not say and we’re rooting like hell for them to get beyond the things that prevented Mae’s parents from learning how to love one another.

There is a landslide of emotion in this film. The photographs work intricately as the story weaves in between the present and the past. We feel the same pain that Christina feels and even more because we know where her decisions are going to lead. It’s not that Mae has a bad life. Christina marries a good man (Vance) and has a good life. The pain is in knowing what she gave up to get the life of a successful photographer.

Now Mae and Michael are on the verge of something incredible, or something drastic. I hang on every glance and even more each occasional word. Save yourself the usual pulp and see something the genuine experience.

(**** out of *****)

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