Back in 2012, when I was just 17 years young and on the brink of adulthood, I thought I had everything going for me including an acceptance letter to my dream college. The only problem was my boyfriend. His aspirations didn’t go higher than the projects in Brooklyn. I wanted to leave. I needed to start over and figure out who I was before I could commit to anyone else.
I made the most adult decision of my life.
I ended up choosing me, but made sure I got closure with a tear-filled goodbye in the staircase of my old apartment building.
The Photograph is a lesson to those transitioning on any journey of self-discovery. The non-traditional love story, written and directed Stella Meghie centers on art curator Mae Morton (Issa Rae) and journalist Christopher Block (Lakeith Stanfield) — two millennials in modern-day New York City who unpack life in their 30s, generational trauma, bad habits and falling in love all while finding themselves in the process.
While researching for an article, Christopher uncovers a photographer of Christina Eames. He is then connected with her daughter Mae Morton and they begin to travel into the past together while falling forward into love. As Christopher moves forward in his career and transitions out of a previous relationship, Mae is mourning the death of her mother with whom she struggled to have an intimate, personal relationship with. Both protagonists are mourning with loss on different spectrums and learning their place in the world all while casually dating one another with loads of baggage.
The romance drama holds a mirror up to the faces of younger generations and how we are willing to change jobs, swap out life partners and move around frivolously without first analyzing the emotional and mental consequences of what that may entail. Is it impossible to have it all? No, but we make it seem so because it is easier to give up on something that requires optimism than to be a hopeful romantic striving for nothing more than the pursuit of life, love and happiness. Who are you to tell yourself that you can’t have it all?
Rae alongside Stanfield’s brilliantly depicted character exemplifies the modern-day dater or hopeless romantic who lacks communication skills without the presence of alcohol, a bedroom or lackluster social skills. When faced with a difficult career decision, Michael freezes in the face of adversity.
Without giving away too much of the film, for those of you who plan to see this cinematic celebration of Black love, this film is different than the classic Brown Sugar, Love Jones and Love & Basketball. The Photograph stands on its own and teaches our generation that sacrifice is necessary for growth, but doesn’t have to be defined by a loss.