In writer and director Stella Meghie’s new film, The Photograph, she tells two intertwining love stories from the past and present. When New York-based photographer “Christina Eames” (Chante Adams) passes, her daughter is led to the discovery of her mother’s past life in the small town of Pointe a la Hache, Louisiana. (SYJ: 3/5)
Review written by FF2 Media intern Sophia Y. Jin
The Photograph opens with “Christina” (Chante Adams) being filmed, where a man behind the camera asks her questions about her new life in New York City ‘for posterity’. When asked about what she loves, she responds by saying she loves her work. She then hears a child in the background and adds to her answer that she loves being a mother. Her only regret is that she does not know how to express her love as fully as she feels it.
Fast-forward 30 years to the present day, and journalist “Michael Block” (LaKeith Stanfield), shows up at “Isaac’s” (Rob Morgan) house, asking to interview him about an oil spillage. During the interview, Michael and Isaac talk about the photographs on Isaac’s mantlepiece. This turns into talking about long lost loves, involving Christina, who has been estranged from him for years after her move to New York. Isaac mentioned wanting to get back in touch with her, but seeing as it has been decades, he doesn’t know where to start. This is where Michael’s curiosity gets the better of him. On returning back to New York, he tracks down Christina’s work–photography–which is how he and “Mae” (Issa Rae) meet. Mae is a curator of a museum and just so happens to also be the daughter of the photographer in question.
From here on, the love stories of (young) “Isaac” (Y’Lan Noel) and Christina from the past, and Michael and Mae in the present begin to unfold, parallel to each other. The Photograph shows how a stable relationship can crumble and disintegrate when two people have different aspirations. Was Christina supposed to stay in the small town, get married, and be a stay-at-home wife? She did not want that to be her fate, so she left town without saying goodbye. In the present, Mae and Michael explore their understanding of love and what they want in a relationship.
Stella Meghie’s new film The Photograph explores two different timelines. One where a photographer leaves to chase a dream in career, and another where two people chase love. There was a lack of a strong storyline. Considering the film is called The Photograph, there is not enough reference to a photograph and it does not have a solid storyline behind a photograph. It felt as though there wasn’t a clear point to this movie that would keep the audience engaged. The cinematography, however, was beautiful. The way in which the characters were captured through the camera was powerful. The film showed some parallels between the two time periods through subtle similarities in the camera shots.
©Sophia Y Jin 02/19/2020
Does The Photograph pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?
Yes, the film talks about Christina and her photography.
Coach Katusha’s Comments:
The Photograph explores a romantic idea where curiosity and coincidence brings two people together and is guided by a love story from the past. Individual characters seem realistic and their acting quite natural, but there is not enough chemistry between the main present couple. I quite enjoyed Chanté Adams’ performance as Christina Eames–there was an enticing feeling to it! I find it odd how the male characters, Isaac and Michael, both look at their female counterparts with lust more so than love. Since my belief is that the original intent was for this movie to be about love and how it affects the decisions we make. I would have wanted to see more about the backstory of Christina’s relationship with “Louis Morton” (Courtney B. Vance) in New York, as that would have definitely been a very different sort of love to compare the others to. One thing I must mention about this movie is how much I enjoyed watching Black characters in a regular romantic drama film. So thank you Stella Meghie for that! (KIZJ: 3/5)