‘The Photograph’ spices up a traditional love story


Essence Boyd – Contributor

They say one second can change it all, but what about one photograph? In romantic drama “The Photograph,” director Stella Mehgie shows what happens when you chase after love while also showing what happens when you do not.

When New Yorker and devoted photographer Christina Eames, played by Chante Adams, grows ill and dies without notifying her family of her illness, she leaves daughter Mae, played by Issa Rae, full of emotions, loved not being one of them.

With hopes of strengthening her bond with Mae from beyond the grave, Eames leaves behind three life altering components in a safety deposit box: two letters, one labeled “My Mae,” and the other not labeled, instructed to be given to her father. The two letters are accompanied by a solo polaroid photograph of Eames taken many years ago.

A duplicate of this photo lives across the Atlantic in rural Louisiana in the home of Eames’ teenage love Michael, played by Lakeith Stanfield. Michael meets Isaac played by Rob Morgan, a New York reporter in town doing a story on the history of the land.

While conducting this interview Isaac comes across the photo of Eames accompanied by a few pieces of her work. Upon asking about her and her work as a photography, Michael’s longing for Eames is unable to be missed.

Once returning to the city, Isaac looks up Eames’ work which leads him to Mae. Although this movie is very much your typical story of two destined love birds falling in love despite any and all obstacles being thrown in their way, it is also a story of a love lost.

As Mae reads bits and pieces of the letter left behind by Eames, flashbacks of Eames’ love story with Michael is unfolded before your eyes, the love, heartbreak and ultimate end of their relationship.

These flashbacks place you in the whirlwind of Christina’s life. While struggling with the decision of pursuing her dreams of being a photographer and her love for Michael, she is constantly uneasy.

When denied by Michael to accompany her in New York, Christina moves to the city alone carrying an unknown secret with her. During these numerous intermittent flashbacks many secrets are revealed the most shocking being the true identity of Mae’s father, Michael.

Since hitting the screen on Feb. 14, the film has already grossed $17 million and earned a 75 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes earning a “B+” on an “A+” to “F” scale.

As Issa Rae has been the director of many films from her successful YouTube series Awkward Black Girl to hit HBO television show Insecure, in recent years she had made her transition from behind the camera to in front of it and has yet to disappoint.

Lakeith Stanfield is no stranger to the screen as he has appeared in award winning films such as Get Out directed by Jordan Peele and Netflix Original Someone Great. However, I must say he plays the role of a hopeless romantic just as well or not better as a brainwashed slave in Get Out.

This film takes many twists and turns while pulling at your heart strings, while putting a spin of the popular belief, “if it was really true love, it’ll always find its way back to you.” I would highly recommend seeing this movie — who does not love a good love story? Just be prepared to want to reach out to the one that got away. Who knows? Maybe your story will end up like Mae’s and Isaac’s.

Photo Credit: Izzy Manzo

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