‘The Photograph’ gave us Black love without the trauma

“The Photograph” was released on February 14, 2020, and critics claimed it was ‘boring’. Photo courtesy variety.com

Stella Meghie’s “The Photograph” left me and many others teary-eyed once the credits started rolling. I left feeling at ease, but couldn’t understand why. Then it hit me; this is one of the few black love stories that didn’t have trauma. 

It was a love story. A simple, yet complicated love story. No domestic or verbal abuse, police brutality or gang violence, just a beautiful journey of two black people in New York City. 

Oftentimes these stories of the museum curator and successful journalist falling in love are reserved strictly for white rom-coms. Will Packer gave us an easy watch where we didn’t have to relive hard moments. 

Now, I’m not saying the film in its entirety was easy. From the acting to the cinematography and even the perfect comedic timing, this movie was eloquently crafted. But for me, it is all about the storyline. So often black love is made out to be a struggle. That “nothing worth having comes easy.”

So I think we’ve grown accustomed to the rollercoaster ride that is black love, that we’re not understanding of just a regular relationship. 

While these deep and emotional stories are important, so are the effortless ones. Watching The Photograph was easy. 

In an interview with fastcompany.com, a young Issa Rae discusses her role in ‘Insecure’ and articulated perfectly how black stories can’t be simple. 

“I don’t want to invalidate anybody’s black experience,” Rae said. “But it seems to me [on television], we’re either extremely magical, or we’re extremely flawless. But we don’t get to just be boring. Like, it’s a privilege to be able to be boring and not answer questions like, ‘What do you think about this shooting?’ and ‘How are you overcoming all of these obstacles?’”

Black love doesn’t always have to be complicated. And I think that’s why we need to celebrate and uplift movies like “The Photograph” so we can get more easy-going storylines that make us laugh, cry and then feel good. 

Twitter user @kihmberlie mentioned: “The Photograph was such a beautiful story. No crazy ex, stalkers or abusive husbands. Just two successful black people falling for each other & learning about themselves along the way. Stunning scenes, comfortable pace, different shades of black actors…a breath of fresh air.”

And while many felt the film was necessary, there were still plenty of critics saying that the movie was very lackluster.

Twitter user @wallyisdead_ stated: “#ThePhotograph was dull and boring. Yeah the performances are solid for the most part but it’s a movie where literally nothing happens, damn near put me to sleep.”

It all plays into what we’ve now deemed as a ‘great black film.’ There are so many white romantic films that are absolutely ‘boring,’ but they still get raved about for weeks. 

Black love isn’t allowed to be boring. We have to entertain and appease everyone’s need for heartache when all love stories don’t happen that way. 

Twitter user @simplyme_IWU tweeted: “The photograph was a typical rom-com that was needed because black people didn’t have that representation depicted in movies for us. This movie showed that love can be without abuse, toxicity, infidelity, etc. which is shown continuously in a typical black film.”

I must say, was “The Photograph” boring or are you just used to seeing black love in trauma or pain?