It isn’t a mystery why this Valentine’s Day-slated romancer is melodramatically malnourished given how structure and mood transpire.
The Photograph touches on determination, regret, forgiveness, as well as happiness, in that let writer-director Stella Meghie accentuate a cast that can display aplomb in varying genres.
The setting maneuvers from the 1980s to the present in unhurried close-up of a woman, Christina, who turned out to be a famed photographer who grew up in Louisiana while flourishing professionally in New York City.
Mae Morton is Christina’s estranged daughter whose milieu comes to fore upon the sudden death of her mother in the present as the titular item is recovered in a safe-deposit box. A rising reporter, Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield of Knives Out and Get Out) finds a connection with Mae through a retrospective assignment on her mother.
Meghie elucidates on Christina’s personal life having its vicissitudes in those looking back sections switched with noticeable ease in a gliding fashion. Then and now the fact is more of a should or shouldn’t she as the proof of conflict of whichever way a mother and daughter may choose from the struggle and blessing in a burgeoning ascent.
But, from within the delving from the present into a generation earlier a pacing issue surfaces that has an effect on surely empathetic characters. An insinuation from events witnessed and the ultimate outcome isn’t significant due to the inevitable insolubility of plotting.
Yet, The Photograph is hardly an example of cinematic unpleasantry if relational development is looked at, even as the curiosity from the subtext has noticeably ebbed. Issa Rae of “Little” is rather appealing as the headstrong, anguished Mae who has considerable rapport with a pretty sharp, versatile Stanfield.
If the namesake’s imprint has that fading quality the director also coaxes a very watchable turn from Chante Adams as an edge and unassured Christina. Also, Courtney B. Vance takes pride in a paternal role and solid character actor Rob Morgan (Just Mercy and Mudbound) is creditable as a New Orleans fisherman, Isaac. As Michael’s older, married brother Lil Rel Howery is a needed humorous presence.