Lakeith Stanfield playing Michael Block (left), and Issa Rae playing Mae (right) caught in a picture-perfect moment. (COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES)

‘The Photograph’ Review: The must-see Valentine’s Day film

They say a photograph is worth a thousand words, but sometimes a photograph can represent a past love, unspoken words and a lifetime gone by. “The Photograph” was like a collage: small pieces of the story all brought together to make one beautiful picture. 

This film, directed by Stella Meghie, was different from the normal plot line and pace that other films follow. Everything about it was slow and seductive, but it might be too slow for some viewers. There are plenty of twists and turns that the audience discovers, but the characters achieve very little until the end. 

The story jumped between two different timelines. The first takes place in the mid-‘80s where young Christina (Chante Adams) and young Isaac (Y’lan Noel) are living in a small town in Louisiana. Their sweet romance is shown to the audience in small flashbacks throughout the film. 

Isaac is a small-town country boy who is content with his life and wants to enjoy its simple pleasures. Sometimes opposites attract, but it is possible to be too different from your significant other. Christina has a fiery passion that she wants to share with the world. Her current living situation is not enough to keep her content for long.

Adams’ performance exuded youthful charm and wanderlust that made her all-too realistic. The romance between Isaac and Christina is similar to Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) from “The Notebook.” Both sets of characters are blinded by their first loves and unaware of what hardships life has in store for them. 

Lakeith Stanfield playing Michael Block (left), and Issa Rae playing Mae (right) caught in a picture-perfect moment.
(Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Christina wants to follow her passion as a photographer and make her mark in a big city, but she must make a choice. Despite her love for Isaac, she decides she needs to take a chance and hops on a bus headed to New York City. 

“The Photograph” is personable and offers something to every viewer. It tackles relationship and professional struggles that we face in everyday life.

In the second timeline, we jump to present day where a young journalist with a long record of commitment issues is on the hunt for his next great story. Michael Block (Lakeith Stanfield) stumbles onto a photograph during an interview in Louisiana with an older gentleman by the name of Isaac Jefferson (Rob Morgan).

The photograph led Michael to New York City where he finds Christina’s only child, Mae (Issa Rae). Mae is struggling with the recent passing of her mother; their relationship was distant at best and Mae harbors resentment toward her mother. The mutual connection both Mae and Michael felt was reminiscent of a modern-day fairytale. 

The onscreen chemistry between Stanfield and Rae was phenomenal. Every touch, glance and word spoken to each other is soft and tender. Seductive jazz music plays throughout the background during each scene, causing audience members to watch more intently as their connection grows with each passing moment.

As “The Photograph” slowly ends, it is made clear that the mistakes of Christina and Isaac’s past will not be repeated as Mae and Michael choose each other against all odds. If any lesson was taught within the film, it’s that photographs are always better with loved ones in them.

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