The Photograph, starring Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield, directed by Stella Meghie, comes out on Valentine’s Day. I will be seeing it on Valentine’s Day, not with my husband but probably with Kathleen, because this is the kind of movie you want to go to with someone who appreciates a romance. Most of the entertainment will be watching Issa and LaKeith fall in love. Some of the entertainment will be watching Kathleen watching them fall in love and sobbing in her seat. She was already sobbing when I sent her the trailer on Friday. Here it is: 


I like a movie that makes no apologies for being a vehicle for sex. That’s what The Photograph is about: after you see it, you’re supposed to want to get to bed. I mean, obviously, there’s more to it – like love and trust and forgiveness – but a romance is meant to make you feel romantic, and I already feel romantic watching this trailer.

The Photograph hits on several romantic movie formulas. There’s a meet-cute – in this case LaKeith is a journalist who needs to talk to Issa to write his story, also a romantic movie trope. Past and present often intersect in these kinds of films and we see flashbacks to Issa’s ma who had a love story of her own, and Issa reading her ma’s letters that end up shaping her own perspective and attitude about her relationship. So we’re picking up on hints of Letters to Juliet, a little bit of The Notebook, and other Nicholas Sparks stories…only good, and nobody has to die or cancer or give up an organ (the heart, duh) in the process. 

I’m in. All the way in. And we haven’t even gotten to how much I love Issa as a romantic lead, which of course is also formulaic in that there are certain actresses that seem to be so well-suited for romantic movies, it’s just that now they’re not blonde anymore and they’re not all called Kate, both in real life and in character. This is Issa in Insecure and now The Photograph and the upcoming American Princess (also directed by Stella Meghie, produced by Paul Feig) and The Lovebirds (co-starring Kumail Nanjiani)… in addition to writing and producing a long list of other, non-romantic projects. 

As for LaKeith, his resumé is just as varied. You’ll see him in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out later this month, and the Safdie Brothers Uncut Gems after that; he’s known for his quirky performances in Atlanta and Sorry To Bother You, but if you’ve seen Someone Great on Netflix, you know he’s great at romance too…and doesn’t seem “too good” for it either, considering the opportunities that continue to open up for him. LaKeith Stanfield doesn’t seem to mind that we’re going to be leaving the theatre swooning which, as you know, so many actors these days seem to be allergic to. 

A few years ago, it seemed like romance wasn’t happening at the movies anymore. But there are people in the industry working hard to keep the romantic movie alive. Let love live! (Sorry, I had to.)