It’s a tall order to aspire to landing even close to the neighborhood of classic Black love stories in which Love Jones, Brown Sugar, and Love and Basketball reside, but that is what the film The Photograph aims for and achieves, thanks to writer/director Stella Meghie, her magnetic cast, and some impressive work by visual and musical collaborators. From its first moments, it’s like the movie, with its underlying romantic jazz score and winning co-leads, is calling the viewers into an intimate slow dance, maybe with Luther Vandross playing, that feels safe, sexy, and so satisfying you won’t want it to end. It’s the sort of movie rarely made anymore, yet here it is.
The Photograph is a multigenerational love story, but it encompasses and celebrates many different kinds of love. Renowned New York photographer Christina Eames (Chanté Adams) has died, and left a long letter to her grieving daughter Mae (Issa Rae), about her life and her love. During an interview, writer Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield) sees a photograph at the home of Isaac Jefferson (Rob Morgan), who lives outside New Orleans, that captures his imagination. It is of and by Christina Eames. In learning more about the image, he is led to her daughter Mae, and sparks fly. We are then taken on a journey through both the dance of their courtship, which is colored with and potentially stalled by each of their challenged pasts, and the story of Mae’s mother, and how her own difficulties in accepting and giving love influenced the life she led, and the regrets she leaves behind.
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