Movie Review for Talk to Me (2007)



Click Poster To Purchase



Review #492 of 365
Movie Review of Talk to Me (2007) [R] 118 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $14.75
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 1 August 2007
Time: 5:40 pm
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer
DVD Release Date: 30 October 2007 (click date to purchase)

Soundtrack: Download now from Me'Shell Ndegeocello - Talk to Me (Music from the Motion Picture) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Kasi Lemmons (The Caveman's Valentine)
Screenplay by: Michael Genet (She Hate Me) • Rick Famuyiwa (Brown Sugar) with story by Michael Genet

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Don Cheadle (Ocean's Thirteen) • Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) • Taraji P. Henson (Smokin' Aces) • Cedric the Entertainer (Code Name: The Cleaner) • Martin Sheen (Bobby) • Mike Epps (Something New)


Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
In the months that led up to the senseless and tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. an up and coming radio DJ named Petey Greene worked his way into the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised, Black citizens of Washington, D.C. The night Dr. King's death was announced to the public, Petey Greene became a solemn and certain voice of reason for a lost and forgotten population helping turn their anger and desire for revenge into a force for positive change befitting the legacy of the Nobel laureate and civil rights hero. What is even more remarkable than the film which tells this story is that it took so long to be told. Perhaps people in the generations older than X, Y, and Z know only too well of his eventual catastrophic plunge out of fame, and the time is now ripe to focus on the important parts of his story for the next generations. Talk to Me, not just the film's title but one of Petey's catch phrases (and spend some time pondering the difference in the significance of the meanings of this phrase vs. Frasier Crane's "I am listening"), represents a return to filmmaking that works because of the story, the characters, and the actors. Director Kasi Lemmons, who should surely be atop the list of Best Director of the year with her efforts here, wakes us up with Petey's powerful, catchy, and 'everyman' approach to life. An ex-con, Petey Greene meets up with a radio station programming director, Dewey Hughes, while still behind bars. Dewey winks and tells him to "look him up" when he gets out. Petey takes this as a job offer inducing him to work any possible angle to get out of prison as fast as possible. His days of flipping wax tracks for the all inmates / all the time prison radio station are numbered. No sooner does he get out, than he and his lovely, vogue, and vivacious girlfriend Vernelle Watson, plan to take the station by storm. Unfortunately, Dewey has no openings and station owner / Manager E.G. Sonderling finds him crude, rude, and socially unacceptable. The station is a respectable R&B station, and for what it's worth, Sonderling seems to be ahead of the curve on getting out to make this station profitable as times are changing. Indeed, most of the DJs are Black including the "Nighthawk" Bob Terry as is morning show host Sunny Jim Kelsey. But, Petey has no intention of giving up this easily. He organizes a protest march against the station in hopes to get them to cave in on his demands. Eventually, though, Dewey will teach him a very important lesson over a game of pool that settles things once and for all. The next thing you know, Petey has his first shot—which he blows. He's just too nervous, and then he says all the 'wrong' things on the radio nearly costing Sonderling his radio license and Dewey his job. Again, a heart to heart happening forces Dewey to realize that he and the community need Petey to say what everyone is thinking but afraid to say, and Petey realizes he needs Dewey to open doors for his career—an amazing brotherhood if forged. And it was a good thing, because not only did Petey's wise-cracking wisdom help propel the radio station's ratings, his PhD from the streets helped to galvanize the hopes and dreams of the people listening to his morning show. Nothing could have prepared anyone, however, for the dramatic and complicated impact of the assassination on the people, nor that it would be Petey Greene who would eventually be credited with calming the city and helping guide a positive outcome from the tragedy. With this, Petey becomes legendary, and Dewey intends on becoming his manager and guiding him all the way to the top. But, this story too will endure more tragedy as Dewey learns the hard way that you cannot cast another person in your dream role if that's not where he wants to go, and that friendship must prevail above all disappointments in life.
Buy at Art.com
Don Cheadle
Buy From Art.com

Purposefully, I've neglected to mention the two actors behind Petey Greene and Dewey Hughes. First, they are both so incredible, it never occurred to me until I was driving home that they were not Dewey Hughes and Petey Greene. It's the first time in a very long time that I never even thought about who they really were—which, in my humble opinion, is one of the characteristics found only in the very best actors in the very best performances. Second, I did not want the actors' names to interfere with the story. I don't think they'd want that either. This is the type of film worthy of a standing ovation where the class of the actors would cause them to realize that they are the lucky artists who got to play these incredible characters and not the other way around. So, truly, in two of the outstanding male performances of the year thus far, were Don Cheadle as Petey Greene and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Dewey Hughes. Gentlemen take your bows. These two performances just blew me away. I cried. I laughed. I got chills and then ready to take up my own torch when the news of the assassination came through. It was an incredibly powerful moment. It's difficult for me and people younger to imagine what it would have been like to be living in this country with such great leaders as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. and to stand as eyewitnesses as their lives were snuffed out. How could it not seem like a conspiracy to end the positive progress of this nation?

"… extraordinary are the performances of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Don Cheadle as Petey Greene and Dewey Hughes … absolutely worthy of a standing ovation…"
In any case, Don Cheadle has been honing his craft playing small parts all kinds: comedic and charismatic and dramatic, to emerge in this role as one of the leading actors of the day. Meanwhile, Londoner, Chiwetel Ejiofor as come a long way from Kinky Boots where I first noticed the depth of potential in his talent, to play the multi-talented Dewey Hughes, himself a venerable voice of change in D.C. community for decades after his efforts to make Petey Greene a household name. Together they make an auspicious pair nearly scandalous in how great they truly were. Honest to goodness, you will want to stand in ovation when the credits for this film roll. The supporting cast including Taraji P. Henson as Petey's girlfriend Vernell, Cedric the Entertainer as "Nighthawk", and Martin Sheen also deliver big in this film with really only two roles, two personas. Ms Henson, honestly could bring early Oscar® buzz herself for best supporting actress for her role, though, indeed. The film is already earning much fan buzz and developing certain controversy as to who exactly is the intended audience. Baloney! This film is for every USAer who cares about the history of this nation. It's also for people who presently spend far too much time complaining about what's wrong with this country and this world while doing absolutely nothing about it. The true sense of living in a democracy is that we all owe to each other to get out and make our voices heard in which ever venues we can still via our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights assemble to do so. In any case, this film must not get lost in the summer shuffle. It deserves to be seen and enjoyed for it is an outstanding motion picture. Much credit too should go to Director Kasi Lemmons. She's got to be on the radar now as one of the most influential directors of the year.

Not that I care to say anything particularly negative about the film, as it is so inspirational and influential, and it is inspired by the true story, of course so there's not much the writer and director can do about changing the events to make for a happier ending, it might be noted, that the last 30 minutes of the film are not as engaging as the first 98. Another little thing that would have made the film absolutely perfect would have been finding some device or hook that could have better tied the film concretely into the events of today. On the balance, however, Talk to Me is a film really worth seeing and talking about for a long time to come.


Send This Review To a Friend


Related Products from Amazon.com
Other Projects Featuring Talk to Me (2007)
Cast Members
Don CheadleChiwetel EjioforTaraji P. Henson
Cedric the EntertainerMartin SheenMike Epps
Director
Kasi Lemmons
Writers
Michael GenetRick Famuyiwa
CD Soundtrack
DVD


Review-lite Talk to Me (2007) [max of 150 words]
Absolutely extraordinary are the performances of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Don Cheadle as Petey Greene and Dewey Hughes in Kasi Lemmons's stunning tribute to these real-life Washington, D.C. radio legends and the role they played in calming the city after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Over all, the film is a remarkable from nearly beginning to end drawing you into the world of P-Town as the ex-con Petey Greene takes the radio listeners by storm. The film, inspired by the true story, is absolutely worthy of a standing ovation.

Send This Review To a Friend

1 comment:

Movie review guy said...

I've been wanting to see Talk to Me. I think your review won me over. Hopefully this weekend I'll get to it...