A Lil’ Feel Good: the Movie, The Photograph

Think about how long it has been since we’ve been able to see a modern, heart-warming romantic-comedy with a cast that is Black and not unseemly in some way. The feel-good movie-situation has been bleak for years.  Many of us have binged on Love Jones, Best Man, Brown Sugar and Love & Basketball countless times because we haven’t had many replacements to fill those moments when we simply want to be entertained. 

It was so nice to lounge in a fake-leather reclining chair, drink a margarita, graze on a mix of popcorn and Milk Duds, and watch a movie that didn’t have not one enslaved, tortured, marching, jailed or drug-dealing Black person?  This world ain’t been kind to Black folks lately.  Many days, I feel as if I am a character in a civil rights movie- fighting to be respected as a Black person, so I crave those moments where I can relax and escape.  I needed The Photograph.

I needed it exactly for the same reason some people have complained about it.  It’s unrealistic in some ways.  True, the coincidence of Mae and Michael being in Louisiana at the same time and in the same house is a stretch; and of course, in modern times Mae most likely would have emailed Michael a concert ticket instead of snail-mailing it.  But love –the way it unfolds sometimes – is unrealistic.  That is the magic of love.

And I don’t know about ‘chall; but I’ve been needing a bit of magic.

I also needed, or at least have been craving, to see the humanness in Black folks on the big screen.  I oftentimes feel as if “Black” is a culture (one that most of the world has tried to emulate); and that we, Black people are seen as caricatures—edited into overused stereotypes by the rest of the world.  It was refreshing and validating to see a story that showed typical people dealing with typical life-issue, whom also happened to be Black.  Each character showed an array of emotions: sadness, fear, anger, love, happiness, satisfaction, shame, guilt, admiration and confusion. They were round and complex; they were human.

Those emotions were illustrated through adept acting by the entire cast and lines that gave me several “ah-hah” and “dat’s-right” moments:

Don’t get old.  You have fewer people to talk to and more time to go over every regret

Ooooo Chile, this line was a true reminder to live a life that avoids this very circumstance.  I don’t want to have torturous regrets due to making decisions based on fear and ego.

I wish I was as good at loving as I am at working

Work has predictable outcomes.  If you work hard and well; you get promoted.  You show up and you get paid.  Conversely, love is completely unpredictable.  It is understandable that many of us focus on that which we can control.  It’s easier and safer; but we all know that investing in love produces the greatest benefits.  Loving requires us to be brave.

I’m comfortable being unhappy and jaded

Bay-beeee, I swear the volume was turned up in the theater when this line was uttered because I heard it loudly and clearly.

Lawd knows I’ve been through some heavy things in my life. We all have. I oftentimes say that God is fair: he brings us ALL to our knees at some point. I think the key to living a fulfilling life is to get back up off of our knees after a while (because feeling the pain—allowing yourself to be on your knees for some time is important too). But once you’ve allowed yourself some time; you must GET UP — even if you gotta grab on the furniture to hoist yourself, even if your knees and legs ache, even if you have to ask loved ones or a therapist for help. 

It’s easy to get too comfortable down there on the floor. Being sad and angry becomes familiar; and trying to be happy again becomes too scary.  Years pass and you still see life from the low perspective of being on the floor. All men are bad men in your opinion because of what your dad or high school boyfriend did. You don’t make new friendships because of someone who betrayed your trust. You are living your life from a place of hurt, fear and anger— on the floor. Consequently, your life is limited. You have given control of your life for many more years to the person who hurt you originally. Do they deserve that? Do they deserve more of your time, brain space, unintended sacrifices? My guess is that they don’t. I’m sure, however, that you are deserving of a full life – one where you open yourself up to all of life’s possibilities.

The Photograph was all about the possibilities in life: the possibility of falling in love, of overcoming generational trauma, and of forgiving.  It is a true feel-good movie; and currently, I think most of us could use a lil feel-good.

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About Randi B.

Randi is a diversity and inclusion strategist, speaker, trainer and writer, focusing on making connections and cultivating empathy in this diverse world one trip, speech, article, book and conversation at a time.

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