The Photograph is a fairly straightforward romantic drama that is slow to develop and fails to rise above ho-hum despite its very likeable and very attractive leads – Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield. She plays a New York museum curator named Mae; he plays a rising-star journalist named Michael. They are brought together by the mystery of an old photograph of Mae’s recently-deceased mother Christina (Chanté Adams), a renowned photographer whom Michael has been researching for a story. The film intertwines Mae and Michael’s budding romance with flashbacks from a past romance involving Mae’s mother and a young beau in Louisiana.
The film is rated PG-13 though it wouldn’t have taken much to nudge the language and sexuality into R-rated territory. Things can get a bit steamy in the midst of a Louisiana hurricane! And while the story is meant to slowly reveal the mystery of who Christina was – as a young woman, photographer, and mom – there isn’t much by way of suspense. You know where it’s headed, and what the ‘big secret’ is going to be.
The Photograph was written and directed by Stella Meghie who did okay with the romantic comedy The Weekend (2019) after striking out with the YA melodrama Everything, Everything (2017). The Photograph falls somewhere in between. It’s beautifully shot but strikingly boring, which may be perfectly okay if you’re seeking a sweet little romdram that tackles modern-day romance without meandering down a bunch of dark, torturous or melodramatic paths.
Happy Valentine’s Day/President’s Day weekend!