Chemistry between the leads is everything in a romance film.
But the somewhat confusing and formulaic back and forth story fails to enrapture viewers, just as gorgeous Issa Rae as museum curator Mae and handsome LaKeith Stanfield as reporter Michael do not exhibit that expected romantic chemistry. On the other hand, Mae’s famous artist mother Christina Eames (Chante Adams) and young Isaac (Y’lan Noel) exude honest passion.REEL REVIEWS: Lack of chemistry mars ‘The Photograph’ | Lifestyles | heraldbanner.com
Of course as I’m reading through reviews from others, I found other movie review bloggers who thought there was significant chemistry between the two leads. Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks had amazing chemistry, DiCaprio and Winslet in Titanic, too, I just wasn’t seeing or feeling enough of it here. Some? Yes.
I felt some chemistry between the two, just not enough. Like one of those old Polaroid pictures that is partially developed and has some psychedelic colors in it.
This wasn’t my biggest gripe, though, but before we can get to that, a SPOILER warning.
… you’ve been warned, SPOILERS ahead …
The Underdeveloped Photograph
From the title and the trailer, I thought there would be more to Mae’s digging into her mother’s background through the photograph. Like the more she would look at the pictures, more of the story would unfold. Or at least with the letter her mother left behind.
Instead, it was at best a minor subplot, almost a mcguffin to draw the two main characers together. The letter was underutilyzed.
Reviews by Others
Let’s see what others think of The Photograph:
- Cinefiles Movie Reviews (Grade: B-): “…may not boast a unique story, but it at least aspires to provide this substance.”
- Diana Metzger / BYT: “It’s rare that a modern romantic film doesn’t edge into excessive melodrama, or forced to take on another genre entirely. Luckily, The Photograph elegantly avoids either of those fates.”
- filmfanstake: “…is perfect for Valentine’s Day weekend. However if you’re looking for something that’s going to reinvent the wheel of romance you won’t get that.”
- Katrina J. Williams: “It was beautifully written and brought to life on screen by the actors and all involved. I watched the reactions in the theater and it matched my sentiments.”
- Keith & The Movies (4/5): “…maintains its tenderness and sophistication by simply latching onto the one thing all great romances embrace – the human element.”
- leap taken: “was thankfully free of trauma, politics and stereotypes. It was so good, I plan on actually seeing it again!”
- Music Movies Thoughts (4/5): “…is a sentimental snapshot of a universal theme through an unapologetically Black lens. Character driven and revelatory, the film is not for those seeking a fast-paced romp but rather those who wish to be enveloped in a story of finding love through exploration.”
- M.N Miller / Ready Steady Cut: “…is told with care and quiet confidence that may wrap up too neatly for today’s smarter cinephile.”
- Rachel’s Reviews (8/10): “The flashbacks telling the story of Rae’s parents isn’t as compelling but it’s still serviceable. If you are into romances The Photograph is a well executed film”
- Reel Projection / Mike Shutt: “…carves itself out a much needed place in the multiplex as a well-acted, well-made, thoughtful romance for adults. Please do not be an anomaly, and if somehow studios start making a few more movies like this, I hope they are at least half as good as this one.”
- SheiaSwainWrites: “I loved this movie and how it shows how we allow cycles to continue but also how we can fight to see that they don’t.”
- The Silver Screen Analysis (90%): “…falls exactly where you want it to for the genre, right in the middle. It captured emotional weight as two stories of love evolve. But it also infuses it with a natural levity and charm through characters that feel like real people living their lives and confronting the obstacles that come with it.”
- Timothy Hall / The People’s Critic (Grade: B): “When the two are romantic, it feels flat. There’s something missing between Rae and Stanfield that makes it hard to believe them as a couple. Their lack of chemistry is more glaring after the flashback scenes when you two actors that look in love, for real.”
- Tom Moore / Moorereviews (4/5): “If you’re looking an original romance story filled with great storytelling, a mature and genuine heart, and incredible performances that you can really connect to, then The Photograph is a post-Valentine’s Day must-see.”
Not Recommended (or on the fence)
- A Little Bit of Everything: “The movie was a little slow especially towards the end, but overall I would give this movie one thumb up and one thumb down.”
Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs and pull quoting from my reading list as well as other new blogs shared, liked and discovered.
Happy movie watching!