Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
USA, 2020. Iam21 Entertainment, Seven Letter Word Films. Screenplay by Eugene Ashe. Cinematography by Declan Quinn. Produced by Eugene Ashe, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan T. Baker, Gabrielle Glore, Matthew Thurm. Music by Fabrice Lecomte. Production Design by Mayne Berke. Costume Design by Phoenix Mellow. Film Editing by Dana Congdon.
Taking place over a number of years from the late fifties to the early sixties and styled like a Douglas Sirk melodrama, this film is a welcome return to classic elegance in its aesthetic perfection, while also employing a timeless understanding of the pain and beauty of romantic love. Nnamdi Asomugha burns with a subtle, sexy cool as an aspiring musician who gets a day job working in a record store owned by Lance Reddick, whose daughter Tessa Thompson works the front desk as an excuse to watch the store’s television (her conservative, strict mother doesn’t allow her to watch it at home). She has dreams of making it in television production, not an easy road for an African-American woman of her time (or any other), and has an easy, instant chemistry with Asomugha that sees them falling in love almost immediately; unfortunately, she is already engaged to the wealthy son of a doctor and her life has already been arranged. The temptation is there to do what she wants instead of what she should, but Asomugha goes away on tour and helps make up her mind, believing it best to let him be free to follow his dreams. Years later, wealthy, a mother and working as a production assistant on a cooking show, she runs into him outside a Manhattan theatre and they reignite their passion, attempting to find their way to each other while maintaining the responsibilities and commitments that have piled up in the years since they first met as carefree youths. Every shot is immersed in loveliness, director Eugene Ashe moves his camera through each scene with a gentle affection that allows the pleasure of women in party dresses and nights in classic Manhattan nightclubs to be as delicately captured as the palpable eroticism between the leads. This is a movie that makes your heart flutter with joy at its assets and is among the rare films to truly capture a tale of true love.