The Photograph Movie Review: This Amazon Prime Flick Just Doesn’t Click

The Photograph

Rating: **(2 stars)

This is a very decorous genteel proper love story with black folks pretending not to be black. The  focus here is on  appearing mainstream by turning the  proceedings  ‘colour blind’. This is a recent phenomenon in American cinema  whereby the characters’ cultural/racial specificity  is  not  mentioned at  all.  Quite a departure from the great black sagas in the past like The Colour Purple  and Seven Years A  Slave.

Not that The Photograph is anywhere  near being great cinema. It’s nerverwrackingly decorous with the well-dressed characters talking in clipped tones, listening to nostalgia music from custom-made vinyl record players while sipping the best champagne that dollars can buy. I never got around to believing  that Issa Rae (no relation to our own Lisa Ray) was  falling in love with Lakeith Stanfield. They  resemble  a  pair of models  doing a cologne ad.

The family around the couple is so clichéd in their attitude  it felt like the narration was actually mocking them. But no. Lakeith’s gruff but softhearted  Bade Bhaiya and the doting Bhabhi(straight out of Sooraj Barjatya ) are for real. So in a sequence straight  out of  Hum Saath Saath Hai, Michael brings Mae home to  his  brother’s family. The  kids rush to ‘Aunty’ and tell her about Michael’s  previous girlfriend who used to  visit them.

This is as weak an excuse for a rift between the couple as I’ve ever seen. May has her own mother issues which we get to see in flashbacks which are as  vivid as the view of the  ground  from the spinning wheel.

The film’s biggest crime is not pretentiousness. It  is  dullness.  From Mae and Michael’s first meeting I couldn’t care less whether  they were  mutually attracted , because as  a viewer  I wasn’t attracted  to them as  a  couple nor did I feel the impact  of any of the subsequent ups and downs that  their relationship went through.

The Photograph is  almost as inert  and  immovable  as its 2018  namesake directed by Ritesh Batra where Nawazuddin and Sanya Malhotra were so culturally disparate as  to seem  like the most unlikely  pair  on the planet. Here the lead  pair is  on  the same side, and yet posing  like tourists on love island . This is the love  story for the selfie generation.  Hollow posturing.

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