The Past Meets The Present in “The Photograph”

“Photographs open doors into the past, but they also allow a look into the future.”

The Photograph is the film we’ve been missing for quite some time.  Having seen the, on screen, highly anticipated chemistry between Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield, I am left craving more.  More from the film industry in regards to the African American representation in Hollywood and more of our stories of love and romance.

This film wasn’t the usual black romance film we’ve seen become classics.  This wasn’t boy meets girl next door (both aspiring to be basketball players) figuring out life and their own dreams but also figuring out their love for one another (Love & Basketball).  This wasn’t two people meeting for the first time, sparks fly (as they share similar interests and familiar surroundings), and we follow the ups and downs of their love connection (Love Jones).  No, this was so much more different than all the rest before it.  Writer and director Stella Meghie gives us a bundle of intertwined love stories, complex circumstances, difficult decisions, sultry moments and mystery, subtle tee-hee’s, and an amazing selection of music playing throughout.

We are introduced to the late Christina Eames (played by (Chante Adams), famed photographer, through a photograph and a series of letters written to her daughter Mae Morton (played by Issa Rae).  She seeks to correct the mess she’s left behind, maybe even say a few words left unsaid.  Her words take us back to the past revealing much that led up to her being the famed photographer whom Michael Block (played by Lakeith Stanfield) is researching in the present tense.  We follow young Christina’s story where she is an ambitious photographer who dreams of spreading her wings anywhere in the world other than where she was raised in Louisiana.  A promising love between her and Issac Jefferson (played by Y’lan Noel) is displayed as we watch heart warming romantic gestures and exchanged I love you’s, with snippets of Cheryl Lynn featuring Luther Vandross If This World Were Mine and Patti Labelle If Only You Knew.  Only, to later be threatened by their differences in life goals.  While Christina yearns for more out of life, self, and her surroundings, Issac is more complacent with following in the footsteps of his dad, living the more settled country life.  To no avail, Christina’s path to success comes at a great price which she later expresses to Mae in writing, “I wish I was as good at love, as I am at working.”  This passionate but complex love story between Christina and Isaac both intertwines and is parallel with the love story between Mae and Michael.  Mae is assistant curator at the Queens museum who is finding herself, after losing her mother.  With the pieces her mother leaves behind she has to face life questions about her mother, self discovery and her own capability to love.  Michael is an ambitious journalist, who like Christina, shares similar ambition about work and its tenacity.  Intrigued watching their first moment of apparent chemistry, we are lured into all the heart throbbing moments to follow.  Passionate encounters and relatable firsts, high high’s and low lows, all leading up to the question of will Mae and Michael’s love be able to conquer all unlike Christina and Issac?  For me, the title of this movie The Photograph references the key to Mae discovering more of her past yet in finding her past, she also found her future.

I consider this movie to be the perfect combination of all elements in a drama/romance.  I literally cried throughout the entire movie.  It was beautifully written and brought to life on screen by the actors and all involved.  I watched the reactions in the theater and it matched my sentiments.  There was laughter for all the parts made funny, there was silence for all the moments most felt and complex, there was singing for all melodies played such as Mos Def Umi Says and Lucky Daye Fade Away.  I genuinely hope this is the beginning of more like it in the years to come!

 So, who you got Drake or Kendrick Lamar? LOL. Those who know, know.








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