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Talk To Me

14 Mar

Talk To Me — directed by Kasi Lemmons. Backstage Bio-drama. A wild-talking ex-con shoots for a job as a DJ on a stuffy Washington radio station. 118 minutes Color 2007.

★★★★★

This beautifully written and directed picture ought not to surprise, since its star Don Cheadle has fostered a number of interesting projects in the past, except that one finds him here far to right of the mode of Hotel Rwanda, and its saintly hero. Cheadle has the eyes of a saint, so it’s natural for him to be cast as the good boy getting even better. However, in this piece he is cast as the devil incarnate. He dresses like a circus and he talks like one too. It’s a really brilliant turn, and it stays in the delightful realm of a horse movie until the character, Petey Greene, who is a real-life person, must go on air to calm the rioters on the death of MLK. The film becomes very moving, nowhere more so than in the performance of Martin Sheen as the head of the station. At which point the story focuses on Petey Greene’s mentor, Dewey Hughes, who wants to raise Petey to national prominence as a stand-up performer of black palaver. His manager is played by another superior actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, always fascinating to watch. (You will remember him from Dirty Pretty Things.) It’s interesting for me to see him act through his eyes, for it’s through the strength of the daring of their big open vulnerable plains that everything is delivered. With Cheadle, his eyes are where everything is hidden. He allures with half-lids. Dancing between these two is Taraji B. Henson, whose Afros get huger with every scene and who scallywags through the film with brilliant spontaneity doing a female impersonation that is extremely funny and always on target. The director has commanded all sorts of forces to her aid, and they all do well: the costumes of the period of the late 60s and the riots and the lighting of the black actors to register their skin tones for us properly. I found it quite satisfying, and as with Cheadle’s other efforts both gripping and educational. Educational. Is that a bad word? Not for me. For me it means an experience that is both humbling and enlarging.

 

 
 
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