The Photograph (Blu-ray Review)

Romance films often carry the same nuances. No matter how good or bad, there seems to be some requirements for a successful romance formula.  Intrigue, attraction, chemistry, doubts and insecurities, finding yourself and feeling like you’re right for the one you have feelings for are all parts to a whole that make a romantic movie great.  Does Stella Meghie’s The Photograph hit on those formula ingredients? Find out below and be on the lookout for The Photograph available May 12th! If you haven’t already, check out the Amazon link below to grab yourself a copy!



The Photograph begins in flashback with a video interview.  Christina (Chante Adams) is being asked about her work, and what makes her happy.  She mentions that she is proud of how hard she works and is proud to be a mother.  She has worries and doubts, but all the same, she knows her work is important.  We aren’t clear of what she does just yet.  Flashing to the present and we meet Michael (Lakeith Stanfield) who is visiting Louisiana to interview Issac (Rob Morgan) about his experiences post-Katrina.  While in Issac’s home, Michael finds a photograph. Simple as it is, Michael is quite taken with the photo and wants to know the backstory on Christina, the woman in the photo.

Upon his arrival back home, New York, Michael meets Mae (Issa Rae), Christina’s daughter.  Christina has just passed away mysteriously and left a letter for Mae and one for her father.  Mae is in a state of angered grief.  Christina has been distant with Mae since she was very young and Mae feels an emptiness from the loss of her mother whom she barely knew.  Mae tried for the majority of her life to find a common ground with her mother, going so far as to become an assistant curator at an art museum to be in the same professional world.  It all seems in vain.  When Mae discusses her mother with her father (Courtney B. Vance) he gives her a simple explanation: Christina was a complicated woman.

Michael and Mae have a brief conversation and seem to get nowhere, but immediately Michael is interested in getting to know Mae.  She is beautiful and beguiling and she sees an innocence and sweetness is Michael that also has her interested.  One evening, they meet at Christina’s loft. It’s a stormy evening, and when conditions become dangerous, they seek shelter at Mae’s apartment.  Over some Al Green and good whiskey, they continue to bond, and end up sleeping together. Upon worsening conditions, the couple make their way to Michael’s brother’s (Lil Rel Howery) home for shelter and their newfound love isn’t a secret to anyone.

The film goes on further to delve into the past.  Christina was often mistreated by her mother, and those more toxic parenting skills moved on from her mother, to herself and right down to Mae.  As more secrets are revealed, Mae and Michael’s relationship is challenged and faced with insecurities, the two part ways.  Will they find one another again? Can their love transcend the doubts? Will the pair find their happy ending? All those questions are answered by films end and more.

Let me finish out my review portion by stating simply – Issa Rae is a treasure. Not only is she beautiful, she is a natural actress. Here she is in her first primary drama role.  She fits in it perfectly.  Her chemistry with Lakeith Stanfield is undeniable as well.  Right away you’re rooting for their happiness and you don’t want to be away from their intimate moments, taking them in with the joy of someone falling in love.  The music by Robert Glasper is another highlight, lending an additional sophistication to the gorgeously done cinematography and art direction.  The photographs used in the film are yet another great addition.  This is a film that will go underappreciated for times to come, but for me this was one special film.  I thoroughly enjoyed the film and can easily give it a very strong recommendation!



  • Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Layers:BD-50
  • Clarity/Detail: Clarity and detail are the name of the game with this release. The film looks incredible from a detailed standpoint. There are many layers with each set piece to take in.  Colors look gorgeous and there are no moments of inherent softness to be seen.
  • Depth: This isn’t a 3D pop showcase, but set pieces are wonderfully rife with life. Homes, offices, museums, storage rooms, restaurants and darkrooms all look lived in and are lovingly captured.  Eagle eyed viewers will take in lots of visuals with each set piece.
  • Black Levels: Blacks look wonderful and deep throughout. The color palette is often on the dimmer side, so blacks look at ease in those moments, with no crush in any scenes.
  • Color Reproduction: Colors are phenomenal on this release. The overall look of the film is very classic, and the colors are rich and gorgeous throughout. Scenes in New York are very much in the golden/blue hue, while in Louisiana, the colors are dense and just a little more playful, with special considerations for greens, blues and reds. Of special mention is a scene with Mae is wearing a yellow dress and the contrast between her skin tone and the dress is absolutely amazing.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are natural and wonderfully rendered. The many shades of brown on the actors in the film are on display in a very loving way. Exceptional.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Clean



  • Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: Dynamically speaking, this film is one of unexpected depth. The score and source music are the most dynamic parts of the mix, giving you an audio feast.  Dialogue is lovingly recreated as well with surrounds being used complimentarily throughout.
  • Low Frequency Extension: LFE is given mostly to music. The Robert Glasper score is filled with gorgeous jazz music, while source cues from Anita Baker, Karyn White, Whitney Houston, Al Green and H.E.R. all sound great with the added bump from the subwoofer.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds are relegated to crowd ambience most of the time, with special consideration also for the storm which plays a big part in the film’s sound design about midway through the film.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is perfectly intelligible the entire film. Note perfect.



The Photograph is yet another release with minuscule mentions for the special features.  The disc comes in a combo pack with a DVD and digital code (which, no doubt, redeems in 4K, which this film would look fantastic in…). The slipcover is a mixture of matte and gloss with raised lettering.  Special features are…:

  • Shooting The Photograph (5:37, HD) – An all too short making of feature, that only makes you wish they’d spent a little more time talking about their process for making the film.
  • Culture In Film (3:48, HD) – This feature is about bringing an movie with richness, sophistication and a positive look at black love, with comparison to the film Love Jones as inspiration. Also, too short.
  • The Film Through Photographs (2:24, HD) – Focuses on the photographs in the film, the photographer who took them, and the connection to the character of Christina in the film to the photographs.




I was not surprised by my enjoyment of The Photograph. The film is a fresh new take on the romance.  It’s also incredibly refreshing to see characters of color who aren’t dealing with the stereotypes often plaguing films geared at minorities.  These characters aren’t struggling, aren’t criminals, aren’t being mistreated because of their race.  They’re human beings living lives, finding love and are bathed in positivity for the most part.  I hope the film finds a larger audience in the home, and I hope people see the film and find a new standard for how romantic themed films should be.  This one definitely stands out among other films of its kind, and director Stella Meghie and her cast and crew should all be very proud.  Excellent!

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