‘The Photograph’: A picturesque love story

Jasmine Jones

Love is the only feeling that can make you jump on couches like Tom Cruise in 2005, or completely loathe the thought of it ever entering your life. “The Photograph” takes you through a journey of both. 

The movie jumps between two time periods and tells two different, yet parallel stories. The first story is set in the mid 80s. Young Christina (Chante Adams) abruptly leaves her small Louisiana hometown and heads to New York City to pursue her dreams of becoming a photographer. The second (and main) story follows Christina’s only child, Mae (Issa Rae), who works as a curator at an art museum in New York. 

Christina has recently passed away and leaves Mae a long, intimate letter explaining her life and reasonings for being distant and inattentive as a mother. She also leaves behind an old photograph. While Mae is grieving and trying to understand the life of her mother, journalist Michael (Lakeith Stanfield) is doing a story on Issac (Rob Morgan), who just so happens to be the ex-boyfriend of Christina. Michael also has a duplicate photograph of the one Christina gave to Mae. As Michael is researching for his story, he learns of Christina and begins looking into her work as a photographer, ultimately leading him to Mae. The two meet, and their love story begins.

The plot continues to jump between time periods throughout the movie, giving a deeper understanding of each character. It tells both the love story of Christina and Issac, and Mae and Michael. Mae is guarded yet curious about Michael. She wants to love but is afraid that she isn’t “good at love”like her mother. Michael, who is recently out of a relationship, wants to see where things go with Mae. But, he is offered a job overseas and has a decision to make.

The movie does an interesting job in not only drawing the parallel between the two stories, but in our everyday lives as well. We learn (or don’t learn) about love from our parents, and what we are taught often plays out in our relationships. We must decide if we’re going to allow the “bad” teachings to affect our relationships, and this is Mae’s task. We are also sometimes stuck between a rock and a hard place and must choose between love or a career, or figure out how to balance the two. This is Michael’s task. 

Despite all the wonderful aspects of the movie, a few things could’ve been better. For starters, the movie seemed to move a bit fast. Condensing a storyline into an hour and a half movie is difficult, but their relationship, although beautiful, moved too fast. I’m not hip to new age dating, so that could also be a factor. 

Secondly, there were too many time hops. They were enjoyable and made sense for the most part, but more of that time could’ve been used to give more depth to the current timeline’s relationship. 

Other than that, the movie is good.  Both Issa and Lakeith aren’t usually in romance movies, so it was nice to see them out of their comfort zone. The movie isn’t overly sappy, and it has a few humorous moments, so even if romance movies aren’t your thing, this is one you’d be able to get through. 

Plus, the soundtrack alone is worthy of a Tom Cruise couch jump.

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