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Stella Meghie
LaKeith Stanfield, Issa Rae, Courtney B. Vance
Writing Credits:
Stella Meghie

A series of intertwining love stories set in the past and in the present.

Box Office:
$16 Million.
Opening Weekend
$12,181,865 on 2516 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DVS
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 5/12/2020

• “Shooting The Photograph” Featurette
• “Culture in Film” Featurette
• “The Film Through Photographs” Featurette
• DVD Copy


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The Photograph [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 30, 2020)

With 2020’s The Photograph, we find a multi-generational romantic drama. 30-something Mae Morton (Issa Rae) loses her estranged mother Christina Eames (Chanté Adams) to cancer, and as she sorts through Christina’s belongings, she learns about her mom’s past.

On an assignment in Louisiana, journalist Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield) meets one of Christina’s former lovers (Rob Morgan), and he sees a haunting photograph of her. This piques his interest, so he wants to learn more about her.

In New York, Michael tracks down Mae and works with her to delve more into Christina’s life. They develop their own relationship as we also see flashbacks to Christina’s past.

With four main characters and plenty of life-altering events, Photograph comes packed with potential drama. Unfortunately, the movie fails to explore these areas in a satisfying manner.

Too much of the time, it feels like Photograph presents two underdeveloped stories combined into one, as if the filmmakers hope that the pair will mesh to create one compelling narrative. The movie shifts between past and present in a somewhat awkward way and it doesn’t bring us much reason to latch onto either era.

That happens because Photograph simply lacks the character introspection it needs to succeed. We find dribs and drabs of these elements, but we never really get to know any of the roles especially well, so their stories fail to prosper.

Too much of the time, Photograph feels like a collection of semi-banal interactions punctuated by the occasional plot bombshell. The story tends to progress at a sluggish rate and then it attempts to compensate for the slowness with Big Movie Moments.

Despite these flaws, Photograph almost works due to the charm of its cast. Rae and Stanfield manage an easy chemistry that allows us to like their thinly-written characters, and their performances add depth that doesn’t seem to exist on the printed page.

Though they didn’t appear together in that film, Stanfield also pairs with Get Out co-star Lil Rel Howery, and their connection acts as some of the movie’s best moments. Howery plays the usual Comic Relief Best Friend, but he gives us such a fun turn that we tend to wish the flick spent more time with him.

While the actors semi-redeem the film, Photograph just seems too slow and too flimsy to succeed. We don’t get enough substance and character depth to make this a consistently engaging tale.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D+

The Photograph appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a positive presentation.

Sharpness was almost always appealing. A minor amount of softness crept into a couple of long shots, but otherwise the image remained tight and well-defined at all times.

I noticed no issues with shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also failed to mar the presentation.

To the surprise of no one, Photograph opted for a palette that heavily favored a mix of amber/orange and teal. Within the movie’s color design, the tones seemed solid.

Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows demonstrated nice smoothness. This was a consistently satisfying image.

As for the DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix of Photograph, it showed scope typical of the drama genre. This meant a semi-limited soundscape without much to make it stand out from the crowd.

Street shots or clubs/parties added a bit of immersiveness, as did some severe weather, but those instances remained fairly infrequent. Most of the flick came with a lot of ambience and not much else.

Audio quality seemed good. Speech was distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues.

Music seemed warm and deep, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy. Again, nothing about the mix impressed, but it suited the story.

Three featurettes appear here, and Shooting The Photograph runs five minutes, 37 seconds. It includes comments from writer/director Shella Meghie, producer Will Packer, and actors Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield.

“Shooting” examines the project’s origins and story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations. Though we get a few good insights, much of the featurette sticks with standard promotional material.

Culture in Film spans three minutes, 48 seconds and brings notes from Packer, Meghie, Stanfield, Rae, and producer James Lopez. The show looks at depiction of African-Americans in the movie. It tends to feel self-congratulatory.

Finally, The Film Through Photographs goes for two minutes, 24 seconds and involves Meghie, Packer, and Rae. We learn a little about the photos in the movie via this superficial reel.

A second disc brings a DVD copy of The Photograph. It sports the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Given its scope and ambition, The Photograph could’ve become a rich, engrossing drama. Instead, it tends to meander and lack real character involvement or momentum, factors that make it less than engaging. The Blu-ray offers very good picture, more than adequate audio and minor bonus materials. Despite a talented case, the movie feels dull and listless too much of the time.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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