Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
"MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY"
Directed by: Barry Jenkins
Running time: 87 minutes
Release date: January 30, 2009
Genre: Drama and Romance
Distributor: IFC Films
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Writer/director Barry Jenkins tells a love story that touches on many topics and captures many different emotions. The premise of this film centers around a relationship which involves a one night stand and deceitful cheating. This provoking film has an ethnic foundation, and focuses on a day in the relationship of two 20-something African-Americans.
The Director of the Film, Barry Jenkins, states
"Medicine For Melancholy is a simple, straightforward film that illuminates the modern complexities of living as a declining minority in one of America's major cities." The city is San Francisco, where Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Jo (Tracey Heggins), wake up from a one night stand after a wild party. The young man and woman are hung over and have problems relating to one and other. They have suffered either memory lapse or a drunken blackout.
This fine indie develops deliberately and slowly, giving the plot a natural flow. Micah returns a purse that Jo left behind, and he convinces her to hangout with him for the day. At first Jo is hesitant, because she loves her white art curator boyfriend, who is away for the weekend in London. The two bike and hike up and down the streets of San Francisco.
The setting for this love affair is the rapidly gentrifying Bay Area. Wyatt Cenacs' and Tracey Heggins' brilliant performances portray two black people exchanging the views on the meaning of black. They find themselves visiting dance clubs, art houses, museums, food markets and spending time in Micah's bed. I constantly wondered while watching this film if there was any feelings of guilt by Jo for her cheating on white boyfriend? Or was it that idea of her wanting to temporarily go back into the world of black America? I also had concerns of Micah's thoughts of separatism? The superior acting gave this movie all the vigor it needed to captivate me.
The film is shot in digital video and has shades of pale grey and dullness in color sequences. The film dictates unpredictable and sensitive situations in a twenty-four hour relationship. The characters are accurate and display a provocative portrait of young black Americans in today's society. Allowing the actors' talent to flow with well acted and insightful roles, the pacing is subtle and explodes with a worthy meaning on how their day unravels. These two people struggle to make the relationship work; however, they have different outlooks on life. Jo's caution turns to curiosity, as the plot cleverly sets its sight on the issue of whether or not race is a basis for a love affair. Each must overcome personal demons by resisting temptation.
I was extremely impressed with creative writing and acting in this poetic indie film.
FILM RATING (A-)