Thursday, February 20, 2020

Movie with Abe: Premature

Directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green
Released February 21, 2020

Every relationship begins in a different way, and where it goes from there depends on a variety of factors. A couple might meet with an intention to find a partner, via a dating app or set up by friends, and build a dynamic with the endgame of creating a life together. Other relationships stem from chance encounters, based on looks exchanged and an initial impression of the way someone carries themselves or treats others. A path from that sort of beginning is less certain, since possibilities are limitless but also uncharted and undiscussed.

Ayanna (Zora Howard) is a seventeen-year-old young woman living in Harlem preparing to go to college. As she spends her days hanging out in parks with her friends, she is introduced to Isaiah (Joshua Boone), a music producer who has just moved to the city. They are clearly attracted to each other after that first meeting, and Isaiah actively pursues the chance to get to know Ayanna. They quickly become close as they get to know each other, astounding their friends with the connection they have made. Jealousy, unexpected developments, and incongruous perceptions of what the future holds threaten to derail their passionate romance.

This is a sweet, simple film that features a good amount of dialogue from its supporting characters, who do most of the talking as Ayanna and Isaiah only seem to have eyes for each other. When the two of them are alone together, a beautiful musical score by Patrick Cannell and Stefan Swanson plays, emphasizing the way that these two feel about each other and their ability to disconnect from the rest of the world to be with each other. Isaiah’s work in the music industry and Ayanna’s talent for poetry play into their musical movement through the world, dancing into each other’s lives and communicating in profound and wondrous ways.

This is the second feature film from director Rashaad Ernesto Green, whose impressive debut, “Gun Hill Road,” looked at a father returning home from prison and encountering his transgender child. Howard, who wrote poetry for that film, serves as co-writer here and delivers a marvelous turn as Ayanna, who, when she chooses to be as loud as the friends and family around her, has plenty to say. As Isaiah, Boone is also reserved but emphatic, channeling all his energy into his music and his affection for Ayanna. This film feels real and unafraid to showcase the imperfections of even the grandest love stories. It deservedly earned Green the Someone to Watch Award from the Independent Spirit Awards, and is indeed very much worth watching for its magnificent blend of rich characters, vivid technical elements, and excellent storytelling.


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