In a departure from my usual reviews, this is, as you may have guessed, a (somewhat random) tribute to Love Jones, the 1997 film written and directed by Theodore Witcher – incredibly it was both his debut, and also the only film I can find credited to him as writer/director to date. A travesty. Here are 10 reasons this film is greatness.
- It features intelligent, creative, professional black people living normal lives, falling in love and having their hearts broken. She’s a photographer, he’s an author. They do things like go to bookshops and record stores. It’s crazy that so few films depict people of colour in this way.
- Said characters speak in complete, coherent and insightful sentences while never losing their cultural identity.
- Nia Long’s character Nina is never made to seem less than in full possession of herself as a woman, never objectified.
- It is romantic & sexy, without being over idealised.
- Larenz Tate’s character is called Darius Lovehall. Excellent name. And at one point cooks an omelette wearing only jeans. He is splendid.
- The soundtrack is second to none – Ellington & Coltrane, Lauryn Hill, Dionne Farris, Maxwell…
- It makes you want to hang out in Chicago. They do cool-seeming things like go to jazz-influenced poetry clubs, live reggae, and Chicago Stepper sets where couples wear matching outfits and dance to funk music. Where does one even go to dance as a couple any more?
- The weird browny-purple semi-frosted lip colour that Nia Long wears throughout is totally goals.
- Despite being almost 20 years old (wow, seriously?), it doesn’t feel or look especially dated, and its themes are universal dilemmas around love, trust and commitment.
- The friendship group depicted is funny and realistic, based on supportiveness, a lot of teasing and the occasional falling-out. Reals.
If you haven’t yet seen Love Jones, get thee to a DVD or streaming service. You won’t regret it.