One of the common misconceptions when it comes to high definition is that drama and romance films are less exciting and not worth the upgrade. I wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment and believe that, regardless of genre, any film benefits from the higher bandwidth, and 2020’s The Photograph is certainly one such case.
Written and Directed by Stella Meghie, The Photograph tells an interweaving pair of love stories involving Mae, an art curator in New York who is learning more about her mother’s life from one of two letters that her mother left her upon her death. The other letter is for her father, a man who has not been named to her but becomes known from the first letter’s reading.
While on this journey of self discovery (and family history), Mae befriends and develops feelings for Michael, a reporter who came to her while working on a feature piece on Mae’s mothers’ photography. As we learn about Mae and Michael’s relationship, Mae re-reads parts of her mother’s letter and relives parts of her mother’s past, which weaves the second love story.
This is not the first time I’ve seen this format for a film (the twin letters – one to a child and one for their to-be-found second parent), but that is not to say that it isn’t a fairly unique and rare occurrence. It’s an interesting path of discovery that adds a layer of intrigue and interest to a romance story that is sometimes needed to keep things fresh. To be honest, it was definitely the right choice here, because the movie would likely have been far less compelling without this brand of storytelling. Even with some of the surprises being telecast throughout the film, the fact that you’re actually bonding and caring for both sets of characters is a boon here, and I’ll even go so far as to say that the story of Mae’s parents is likely the more compelling one – although it does give gravity to Mae as a character and provides insight to some of her struggles.
Another awesome thing to this film is that it features an almost entirely Black cast, something that is seen far too rarely. The best part of this? It felt completely natural and not at all forced in any way. In fact, it was near the end of the film where I even noticed that Chelsea Peretti (from Brooklynn Nine-Nine) was the only white person I’ve seen in the film. This was a pleasant surprise and I am all for more minority led films.
Looping back to my first paragraph here, but this film looks fantastic in HD. The clarity, detail, and texture is just truly a joy to watch. Faces are especially interesting here, with really crisp and clear detailing (the main characters have interesting facial features, if I’m being honest, his beard and her big bright eyes).
The DTS-Master Audio 7.1 channel surround track is equally as exciting and interesting. With a lot of music and ambient noises, there is almost always something exciting happening, even though this film is much more dialog driven with little action. The soundtrack features a stellar range of musical styles and fits the film perfectly.
The Photograph is released by Universal on Blu-ray and comes in the standard blue amaray case with a matching slipcover. Inside, you find Blu-ray and DVD copies of the film, and a digital copy. The included special features are:
- Shooting The Photograph – a spotlight on the director and her motivations for the film
- Culture in Film – talking about the African-American perspective of the film
- The Film Through Photographs – a look at photography used in the film
Our Recommendation for The Photograph:
The Photograph takes a rarely used plot device to weave two interesting love stories together and succeeds in investing the audience in both. It is a very good looking movie on blu-ray, with an exciting soundtrack and great picture quality. This all adds up to a compelling date night watch. I’d definitely recommend this one.