Black people as extraordinary and normal at the same time.Really Love
Greetings! I hope that you had a restful three-day weekend and are having a great week thus far. As a part of September’s Self Improvement Month goals and this past weekend, I have finally gotten the opportunity to sit down and catch up on some of Netflix’s newest film releases.
A few weeks ago, the new movie Really Love was released on the streaming platform for everyone to enjoy. The film stars prominent black actors and actresses in both the television and film industry. The movie’s two main characters, Stevie Solomon and Isiah Maxwell, are portrayed by actress Yootha Wong-Loi Sing (Black Lightning) and actor Kofi Soriboe (Queen Sugar). Industry veterans Michael Ealy (Fatale), Blair Underwood (Self Made), Naturi Naughton (Queens), Uzo Aduba (In Treatment), Jade Eshete (Billions), Tristan Wilds (Tales), and the late Suzzanne Douglas (When They See Us) star and support the leading characters throughout the film.
Really Love, directed by Angel Kristi Williams, was initially released last year and received rave reviews from film critics and film festival attendees alike. After viewing the film, myself, the most significant takeaways are the beautiful depiction of African American romance and the messages and portrayals represented.
During the film’s opening, we hear a quote that sets the theme and tone of the entire movie. “Black people as extraordinary and normal at the same time.” This statement itself is profound for not only the film but for everyday life assessments. It’s no secret that black people and culture often influence the world, whether in trend-setting fashion narratives or creative vernacular that often becomes viral hashtags and pop culture phrasing. But what often gets left out of the conversation are the events and experiences that transcend cultural uniqueness. In other words, black people, just as everyone else, enjoy numerous everyday activities and existences.
The story itself presents everyday balance as it highlights the day-to-day happenings of young adult black men and women in a social setting that is slowly experiencing gentrification. Just those factors alone make the film a success. Although systemically subtle, these realities have produced strong aftereffects in black and brown communal spaces and opportunities.
Aside from the storyline, another refreshing aspect I found endearing was the development of the relationship. Although this is a typical storytelling device found in romance tales, it was beautifully executed. Throughout the movie, you can see the conventional building of the relationship from their shared mutual friends to the storied involvement of their families.
Borrowing from the title of a famous black make line, I’d like to mention the black radiance that exuded from this film. From the music and skin to the cultural references found within Washington DC, aka Chocolate City, black radiance and black excellence efficiently supported characters during the film.
Black people create shit out of nothing every day. If that ain’t art, I don’t know what is.Really Love
As the film progresses, the audience watches the main characters make life decisions that ultimately shape their career and personal outcomes. However, I would like to see a revamp of the starving artist/painter/troupe and the typical millennial break away from tradition, degreed, contemplating practices, and not wanting to be defined by labels to titles. Although this may accurately depict some millennials and Gen Z, I think it’s safe to stretch beyond the typical storyline as everyone’s situation is not the same. It’s often layered pasts and conditions that cause many people to experience early and mid-career changes.
In addition, the storyline of not having a supportive family needs to be diversified. Still, I am appreciative that these narratives are present in films because it is often a depiction for many individuals, especially those that operate out of the box.
I wasn’t born a unicorn; I just learned how to shape-shifting.Really Love
I found this quote to be very profound to the characters their lives. For Isiah, the distractions of his everyday struggles are what hindered his artistic expression. For Stevie, she was often conflicted by the thought of being happy in all areas of her life versus solely emphasizing her career happiness. Clutters of life can hinder our passions, and I found that in Really Love, the storyline was proof that it is essential to de-clutter our lives from the thoughts and projections of others. Symbolically, you see this within Isiah’s painting styles. He often portrayed his subjects with layers of thick paint representing the distortions, as he referred to in the film, to the person.
His muse Stevie was too a layered soul that found herself struggling between the identity crises of being young, successful, and typical versus gravitating towards the free spirit of freedom of choice and happiness. In all, I gleaned that the intersection of joy and wholeness lies within your preferences, not those that try to influence you. Overall, the actors captured the romantic interest and tension between their roles as the motion was palpable. I will personally attest that I would have been okay with at least 30 more minutes of the storyline, but I know good stories have to have a resolution.
In all, Really Love ends on a cliffhanger, but it’s safe to assume that both Isiah and Stevie had choices to make that would affect their outcomes both personally and professionally.
In essence, much like artistic expression and interpretation, decisions in life result in risks, and the chances that the characters took throughout the film, were reminders that making impacts in life, whether large or small, is vital to finding and sorting through the questions and decisions that life and love throw us.