creator: Stella Meghie
info: The Photograph is a movie starring LaKeith Stanfield, Issa Rae, and Chelsea Peretti. A series of intertwining love stories set in the past and in the present
release date: 2020
duration: 1H 46 minutes
Directors: Stella Meghie
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The photography show. The photograph penelope lively. The photographer of mauthausen movie. The photograph trailer 2020. The photograph cast. The photograph imdb. Issa Rae and a terrific Lakeith Stanfield play a New York couple whose romance sends them and the story into the past. Credit... Emily Aragones The Photograph Directed by Stella Meghie Drama, Romance PG-13 1h 46m There’s so little genuine, starry eyed you-had-me-at-hello romance in American movies today that when a new love story pops up, it’s hard not to root for it. That’s the case with “The Photograph, ” about parallel affairs of the heart. One is hindered by ambition and miscommunication while the other suffers from familiar fears of commitment. Movies like this tell us that falling in love is easy — cue the thunderbolt looks, passionate kisses and surging orchestration — but if it really were that simple there wouldn’t be much to tell, so also bring on the agonies, tempests and tears. When you meet Mae (Issa Rae), she’s in mourning. Her mother, Christina, a distinguished photographer and rather less capable mother, has recently died, leaving Mae — a New York museum curator — bereft, confused and more than a bit resentful. Christina has also left Mae a pair of letters, including a confessional one that soon becomes a portal to the past. In the magical way of some romances, around the same time, a New York photographer, Michael (a sensational Lakeith Stanfield), learns about Christina while researching a story in Louisiana that leads him to a former fisherman, Isaac (Rob Morgan, excellent), who knew her. It isn’t long before Mae and Michael meet back in New York (there’s an undercurrent of destiny here), setting the story on its bifurcated way. The sparks fly fast and persuasively — Rae and Stanfield make sense right away — and you’re soon cozying up with the couple while they share stories and increasingly heated looks in a dimly lit restaurant. The writer-director Stella Meghie understands that you want to see these two beautiful people get together, and she smoothly delivers on your own romantic (and romance genre) longings. There’s glamour, banter, clinking glasses, searching looks and even one of those crashing storms that echo internal squalls. Meghie does a nice job early with Mae and Michael, filling in their respective lives with precise, enriching details, from the art on the walls to their teasing conversations about music (Drake vs. Kendrick Lamar). Each lover comes with a sidekick, a family to lean on and a lived-in world. Michael works for a magazine; Mae gazes through a loupe at a museum. Courtney B. Vance appears now and then as Mae’s father, dispensing calm truths and advice, wrapping her in a blanket of love. Other comforts, as well as a vision of the couple’s possible future, are offered by Michael’s brother and sister-in-law (a tartly matched Lil Rel Howery and Teyonah Parris), and their kids. There’s enough that’s right here, most crucially the two leads, that you want Meghie to dig deeper into Mae and Michael’s lives, more thoroughly explore their histories, regrets, confusions, dreams and evolving feelings. Instead, she puts their love story into unsatisfying play with the romance that bloomed years earlier between the young Christina (Chanté Adams) and Isaac (Y’Lan Noel). Repeatedly, the movie shifts to Louisiana once upon a time, where Christina and Isaac pull closer despite the usual obstacles, among them her mother, played by Marsha Stephanie Blake in a small turn so alive and stinging you want to follow her into another movie. That happens too often in “The Photograph, ” which consistently builds and undercuts its own narrative momentum. By setting Christina and Isaac against Mae and Michael, Meghie has latched onto an oft-visited conceit about the past — that it informs the future and our capacity for love — but she never manages to make the wanly realized older couple worthy of the time they consume. With her cinematographer and production team, Meghie creates a convincingly inhabited world for them, including with the tantalizing glimpses of Christina’s photos (they were inspired by the work of Carrie Mae Weems), but not a dramatically involving one. Given this, it’s hard not to wish that Meghie had cut loose lyrically more often, ditching some of the talk (especially in the past) to express the story’s emotions in more purely visual terms. In one of the headiest moments, Mae and Michael visit the same New Orleans nightclub that Christina and Isaac traveled to decades earlier, a return that creates a kind of metaphysical bond between the couples, collapsing the years and differences between them, and becoming a testament to the force of their love. As the sensuously prowling camera follows the couples through the club, the jeweled hues of each woman’s dress gleam like a beacon, and you shiver. But it’s Stanfield who offers the most unexpected and sustained pleasures here, and his work is a revelation. For the past few years, he has been building a career not just to watch, but to follow in movies like “ Sorry to Bother You ” and the show “Atlanta. ” With his sleepy, sexy eyes and laid-back physicality — gesturally precise, loose-limbed, confident — he has been a reliably comic performer; here, he proves he can break hearts, too. He doesn’t simply show you a man losing and finding himself, he elevates Rae, whose appealing if limited performance deepens whenever they share the frame. When he looks at her, you don’t just see love, you also feel it. The Photograph Rated PG-13 for discreet lovemaking. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes.
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T here are certain expectations with romantic movies opening on Valentine’s Day: that they offer some cheese, or heat, or maybe soapy drama; that, whatever their methods, they aim straight for your feelings. The Photograph, written and directed by Stella Meghie, looks like it would fit squarely in this mode – the film’s poster frames its two stars, Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield, in classic black-and-white, headed for a kiss. But looks, especially in photographs, can be deceiving, a fitting image for a beautifully filmed movie with a confoundingly, frustratingly underdeveloped story. The Photograph actually begins with a different love story: a doomed one in the 1980s between Isaac (Insecure’s Y’lan Noel), a crab fisherman in coastal Louisiana, and the young, stir-crazy Christina Eames (Chante Adams), hungry to leave and make her name in photography. In the present, Michael Block (Stanfield), a dissatisfied journalist from New York, travels to Louisiana for a story on something pertaining to life after the Deepwater Horizon spill. He interviews Isaac, now bald and wizened and still keeping a photo of Christina, a successful photographer, on the mantel. Enticed by Christina’s come-hither stare in the photo, Michael looks up her name in New York, and stumbles upon her estranged daughter, Mae (Rae). You see where this is going. Except, curiously, the film keeps the stakes frustratingly low. Michael and Mae – both single and, we are told by their respective sidekicks, wary of settling down or putting careers on the back-burner – immediately and obviously like each other (cue long stares, something Stanfield seems to know is his speciality). Both have good jobs and New York apartments, stylish wardrobes and at least one confidante. The only roadblock is their own hesitancy, played out in lackluster scenes in which they talk about maybe continuing to get to know each other and their preferences for Drake or Kanye or Kendrick. Those conversations may be accurate to millennial dating today, but don’t make for compelling Valentine’s cinema; the movie’s attempts to frame drama in ignored calls and Michael’s musing that “maybe we’re not supposed to be good at staying” feel frustratingly expositional, not pivotal. Percussive jazz music often stands in for any emotional turmoil the characters are hinted at feeling but barely show on their faces. We’re offered a couple of conversations between them, a jarringly edited love scene, and then expected to believe in their life and career-altering love, even as they both balk at doing anything to thwart small-scale life obstacles. The script is distractingly underdeveloped. The Photograph wants to tell a generational story of learning from the past to prioritize love (which, unfortunately, swerves too closely to admonishing a woman for prioritizing her career too much) but given that you already know how both are going to end from the beginning (you learn in the first scene that Christina leaves Isaac for New York, and there’s never doubt that Mae and Michael will do … something), the plot merely fizzles. When things do heat up, especially between Michael and Mae, it’s stilted – the dialogue swings quickly from statement (Michael is considering a job in London) to baldly stated plot point (“What does that mean for us? ”). It’s easy viewing – in that case, it does its job. It’s hardly unwatchable, despite a distinct lack of chemistry between Stanfield and Rae. (Michael’s friendship with aspiring intern Andy, Kelvin Harrison Jr, and Andy’s flirtation with Mae’s sidekick Rachel, Jasmine Cephas-Jones, have way more spark than the leads. ) Lil Rel Howery of Get Out and Teyonah Parris provide genuine comic relief as the older married siblings who will put your friends at ease with just the right spin on embarrassing moments, and also seem to represent the picture of “settled down” that Michael is rebelling against. The abundance of talent and some snappy banter add much needed pulse to a film which prioritizes looks over heart, but it can’t save a script that’s sketch-deep. The Photograph is released in the US on 14 February and in the UK on 6 March.
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