The romantic drama, The Photograph, written and directed by Stella Meghie, is set to release in theaters this Valentine’s Day.
Issa Rae stars in The Photograph as Mae Morton, an assistant curator at a New York museum, who has just received a series of letters from her late mother, Christina Eames (Chanté Adams). She also comes across an old photograph of her mother, perhaps the only one that exists, and begins to unpack all the secrets she left behind.
Opposite Issa is Lakeith Stanfield as Michael Block, a notable journalist who digs deep into the Christina Eames story, leading him to meeting and pursuing Mae Morton shortly after a tumultuous breakup of his own.
As anticipated, Issa and Lakeith have great chemistry on screen, and each represent characters with a complicated past but a new future ahead. They fail in making progress, at first refusing to confront the true issue/s, but through a single photo, and a journey intended upon discovering Eames, all those connected to the frame discover themselves. As a result of not letting a single screenshot be the parameters of their full picture, they learn to take the limits off of love and beyond.
Lakeith and Issa are able to smooth over the rough edges of the quick-moving timeline. There’s a questionable amount of back story missing from Michael Block’s perspective, with a narrative that heavily focused on Mae’s motives and fears and not much placement to Michael’s. But it is a love story after all, and though the timeline feels unrealistic, it’s not disruptive.
All the love stories are intertwined. The double narrative—starting with the Eames story—helps us to understand how one could forfeit true love in the first place, and it feeds that curiosity behind the hunger for a better life at any cost.
There were moments when I was more invested in Christina’s drive and her ability to command her first interview than I was watching Mae and Michael settle into their new and unexpected love. However, one plot drives the other and we wouldn’t fully understand Mae’s motives without the mother’s story at the sublayer. And while every action in the film is linked to a single photograph — the film is beautiful in that way — moving through flashbacks and present-day so poetically, the movie could easily be split into two separate parts.
The minor characters are some Hollywood veterans and rising stars: Courtney B. Vance, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Teyonah Parris, Rob Morgan, Jasmine Cephas, Lil Rel, and Chelsea Pareto.
The culture of the film and the music reminds you of Love Jones, and settles you like the ending scenes of Love and Basketball. It’s a unique black love story that should not be missed in theaters on February 14, 2020.