January 13, 2021 – This witty, effervescent romantic comedy is inventive, offbeat, and very funny. It is the kind of New York comedy Woody Allen might make if he was a black rapper.
Like Woody, writer-director Radha Blank makes fun of a certain kind of New York intellectual, but unlike Woody, she skewers these people from a very different perspective, that of a black woman who feels disrespected and whose voice is being compromised by the moneyed elites.
I don't know if there were any compromises in the movie of the kind she complains about in it, but if there were such compromises, I did not spot any in this film. It seemed like free expression to me. There is not much nudity in it, but the language is adult-sounding and very sexually-oriented at times.
The story is about a black woman, Radha (Radha Blank) a once-promising young playwright who is pushing 40 and who fears her best days are behind her. She is too old and too fat to feel good about herself, and she doesn't know if she'll ever be successful again.
Radha makes a modest living as a teacher in a local school, teaching teenagers how to write, act and put on plays. She has trouble relating to some of the kids and two of the girls in class get into a fight in the classroom. Some of Radha's students like her, but some don't respect her.
Then her agent, Archie (Peter Kim of “Margin Call”) calls her with an offer to get one of her plays produced by a wealthy white backer, J. Whitman (Reed Birney of “The Hunt”). Whitman meets with Radha and tells her he does want to produce the play, but he wants to make changes, specifically, he wants white people in the play and wants the white people to be portrayed in a positive light.
Radha agrees to Whitman's conditions, but feels like she is betraying her own beliefs. In a fit of remorse, she suddenly feels inspired to write poetry. She ends up being inspired to become a rapper.
Radha seeks out an online D.J. to provide the beats, hoping he will help her make a mix tape of her new rap songs. The D.J., who calls himself D (played by Oswin Benjamin) doesn't seem interested at first, but eventually recognizes Radha's talent and he personally pursues her.
Radha is torn between her desire to be a rapper, and to make some money re-writing her play. Meanwhile, D is pursuing her romantically as well as wanting to produce her songs. Her agent, Archie, who is an old friend, is caught in the middle.
Radha has a number of misadventures as she works her way through these competing projects. She has a lot of funny encounters with people, including a homeless man who lives across the street from her apartment. She also has more funny encounters with her students, who share the ups and downs of her playwright and rap efforts.
This movie is shot mostly in black and white, with a few color scenes here and there. Some of the color scenes are kind of like fantasy sequences. The film has a low-budget, gritty feel to it. It also has a very easy going, unforced feel to it, as if it flowed naturally from Radha's pen. This movie rates a B.
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