The Photograph: Not a love story – a like story

Alton Worley II | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Pexels User Brett Sayles

It’s been a while since audiences have seen a black romance movie, and The Photograph provides a breath of fresh air, but not in the way you would think.

The official synopsis: “On Valentine’s Day, Issa Rae (HBO’s Insecure, Little) and LaKeith Stanfield (FX’s Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You) connect in a romance where a woman must learn from the secrets in her mother’s past if she is to move forward and allow herself to love and be loved. 

When famed photographer Christina Eames unexpectedly dies, she leaves her estranged daughter Mae Morton (Rae) 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 (Stanfield).”

The Photograph takes a modern approach to the romantic movie genre and does something that has become rare nowadays. In a world now full of romantic comedies, The Photograph manages to stay solidified in the romance category only having hints of comedy in it. 

The only way this movie works is because the leads do a good job portraying the roles that they were given. Rae and Stanfield’s chemistry and acting keep this movie afloat when the writing does not, but in terms of realism, the writers did a good job keeping it real when it comes to their character’s relationship. 

“I had major hopes for what this [movie] could have been or what I expected it to be, but it didn’t make me feel the way I thought it would,” said Savannah Henson, a Hampton University psychology major from Prince George’s County, Maryland. “The storyline was just cute, and the impression and feelings I had left after seeing the film weren’t long-lasting. I don’t know … I expected more, and it was just ‘Eh.’” 

“Cute” would be the best way to describe this movie, as it isn’t anything extraordinary, but ordinary enough to keep the audience entertained, if that. While the stars play their characters well, their timid personalities often leave the audience wanting more.

“Personally, I didn’t like The Photograph,” said Myana Mabry, an HU political science major on the pre-law track. “I felt as if it was fast-paced, predictable and a bit awkward. I strongly believe the main characters didn’t actually love each other – rather, this film was based on lust. I left the theater disappointed.” 

There were no big gestures or reveals that made the movie scream “romance,” so the power was in the body language with some credit given to the dialogue. The characters weren’t perfect, and in reality, no one actually is, so seeing them go through things very relatable to the audience was nice, but also lackluster as the movie was missing something. 

“I felt that the movie was a nice break from the drama that usually occurs in black films about love,” said Jasmine Robinson, an HU strategic communication major from North Carolina. “No one was dramatically shot as well as other stereotypes associated with black love films.” 

This movie should keep the audience entertained, but it doesn’t. In a society where every movie is trying to be bigger than the next, this movie tries something different by not trying at all. This movie lacked the drive and heart-wrenching emotion that many other movies in its genre have, and that’s why it missed the mark it needed to hit.

The Photograph is now playing in Hampton theaters at the AMC Hampton Towne Center 24, Cinema Café and Studio Movie Grill.

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