HOLLYWOOD─Black romance, it is something not seen that often on the big screen, and I really cannot give a reason as to why that is not the case. When it is seen, it is from the viewpoint of a comedy, not an actual drama, until now. “The Photograph” reminded me a ton of “The Notebook,” where it relies heavily on flashbacks to tell a story, but not in the manner that that classic love tale melted the hearts of anyone who has ever seen the movie.
The romance is between Mae Morton (Issa Rae) and Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield). Mae has a huge wall up when it comes to letting people into her orbit. Michael is a photographer, who takes a liking to a woman in a photo named Christina (Chante Adams). Try to be patient here with me because things get a bit complicated which is why the movie ultimately lost me. The story tries to put on a balancing act between highlighting the life of Christina and how it has impacted her daughter Mae. The problem is that the parallel between the two is limited in scope.
Not much ties the tales together beyond the fact that Christina is Mae’s mother. Christina had a tumultuous relationship with Isaac (Y’lan Noel) because her mother was not a fan of the guy. That led to friction between the Christina and Isaac’s budding romance that was severed at the height of things. There is an obvious twist that if one looks closely you will see coming a mile away. The film delivers a false dichotomy to the audience forcing us to think this tale about romance between Mae and Michael, when in all truth the true narrative is between Christina and Isaac.
Rae and Stanfield do as much as they can to ignite a spark, but it’s not as strong on the chemistry front. Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t. This is just one of those times, where it doesn’t knock your socks off. I found myself more enamored in the romance between Christina and Isaac and while fleshed out to a strong degree that should have been the massive focal point of this story. The romance is there, the chemistry is there, the obstacles, the long-lasting romance, shall I go on? Heck the movie’s title is MORE about Christina than Mae people.
With a few tweaks, “The Photograph” could have been the next great tale of romance. Even more exciting is the fact that it could have highlighted Black love on the screen in a way that is rarely seen in the cinematic universe. Unfortunately, this movie does not deliver what the audience wants.