“The Photograph” makes for the perfect Valentine’s Day movie


Courtesy Universal Pictures

Jonathan Sweeney

On Valentine’s Day, I saw the new movie “The Photograph”, written and directed by Stella Meghie. The film starred LeKeith Stanfield, Chelsea Peretti, Issa Rae and Teyonah Parris. This cast delivered a brilliant performance. I found the themes and message of this story to tell an unconventional love story. 

When famed photographer Christina Eames dies unexpectedly, she leaves her estranged daughter, Mae, hurt, angry and full of questions. When Mae finds a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box, she soon finds herself delving into her mother’s early life; an investigation that leads to an unexpected romance with a rising journalist. 

I didn’t know how well the story was going to be executed by the cast, but once I saw it, they proved me wrong. 

I enjoyed the story because it sent a great message. It was an old-school love, one that you don’t often see especially today. When we meet Rae (Issa Rae), she’s mourning the loss of her mother. Michael (Lakeithe Stanfield) is a New York journalist when destiny brings the two together in a picture-perfect moment. It is later revealed that Michael was recently single and he truly found love in a hopeless place. 

I admired their love story for many reasons. They understood one another and took the time to get to know each other. In today’s society people are accustomed to the hookup culture, when in reality, they aren’t getting anything out of it. They depicted the love story we all crave, whether we admit it or not. While Rae had her love story in the beginning in the film, we later learn the love story of her late mother.

The audience takes a trip to 1984, where we meet Christina (Chanté Adams) and her love interest Isaac (Y’Lan Noel). Christina is an aspiring photographer who falls in love with a simple boy, who’s fate doesn’t lie beyond the small town in Louisiana.

Christina and Issac in a darkroom developing photographs. (Courtesy: ThePhotographMovie.com)

She takes a bus to New York and takes her photography with her. Her great love story doesn’t last and neither does her mother. Christina loses her mother right when she moves to New York, leaving her devastated. Mae and her mother have love stories that mirror each other, except for Mae’s story has a happy ending. Mae and Christina both lost their mothers, creating heartbreak. 

However, the acting wasn’t as good as the story. Issa Rae had the potential to speak her character’s truth but she seemed distracted and did not hit all the points with her emotions. She could’ve conveyed her emotions more passionately. She showed the audience a woman in love, not a woman in love trying to mend her broken heart. Her counterparts complimented her well, raising her performance to have more potential. 

It was loosely based off of “Love Jones.” Two people in the city, a writer and a photographer, share an instant connection after a chance-encounter in a club. In my opinion, bringing an old love story back to life is beautiful. 

This film was the perfect Valentine’s Day movie. It taught me that you can find love in the most hopeless place. Despite the mediocre acting of the leading actress, I was engaged. I would recommend this movie to anyone who wants a good cry and reminder that love is always out there.