Movie Review: THE PHOTOGRAPH Starring LaKeith Stanfield, Issa Rae, Chelsea Peretti, Teyonah Parris
I’m going to be frank with you, movies like Stella Meghie’s The Photograph put me in a difficult position when it comes to writing about them. It’s not necessarily a bad movie per say, but it’s not very good either. I personally could not find any ways of connecting with it at all.
The Photograph tells two stories simultaneously. The main story is set in modern-day New York, in which we follow Mae Morton (Issa Rae) as she discovers a photograph of her now-deceased mother and follows it back to Louisiana learning about her mother’s life (our second narrative) along the way. Following her is a promising journalist, Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield) who may be forming a romantic interest in Mae along the way.
The problem I had with the dual narratives is that they just weren’t compelling enough to keep my interest piqued. The chemistry between Rae and Stanfield was absolutely necessary to keep the movie flowing, but it wavered on the wrong side of believable through the majority of the film. There were a few moments sprinkled throughout that did hit on an emotional level (the most memorable being from an exchange with Rob Morgan’s Isaac deep within the movie), but by the film’s end, I found myself relieved to be done with the otherwise emotionless and disconnected journey.
There is some comedic relief provided in extremely small doses from Lil Rey Howery’s character of Kyle, but not enough to have a different outlook on the film overall. The biggest laugh, however, comes from his adorable daughter as she’s questioning Mae, the new lady in Michael’s life. But none of these moments save the film from being just so boring…
The cinematography shines occasionally, but there was a missed opportunity in not showcasing the contrasting landscapes of New York and Louisiana more often. At times, it could be confusing where we’re actually at with our characters in either storyline.
In the end, we spent more time with the more compelling cast of Stanfield and Rae in the modern story and not enough time with the more compelling story of the past. The whole film felt disjointed from the very beginning and I couldn’t for the life of me find what I needed to connect with it and find it enjoyable in the slightest. The Photograph is hitting theaters for Valentine’s Day weekend, but I can’t imagine this one being a highlight in any Valentine’s Day dates.