Talk to Me

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(319)

Director: Kasi Lemmons; Release date: 23 November

"I'll tell it to the hot; I'll tell it to the cold; I'll tell it to the young; I'll tell it to the old. I don't want no laughin'; I don't want no cryin', and most of all, no signifyin'." These words resonate throughout Talk to Me, which depicts the latter half of the life of ex-con/disc jockey/voice of the people Petey Greene, as he leaves prison and endeavours to make it as a radio show host in Washington DC.

Greene, played by the legendary Don Cheadle stars alongside British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Dewie, Green's manager and radio programmer at popular Washington DC station, WOL. Greene, by chance and through persistence, finds a job as a radio presenter at the station. Greene, an advocate for black people and a "voice from the streets", and Dewie, who attempts to make it in a "white man's" world, are almost opposite characters. This film tracks their relationship at a time when the unity between African-Americans was put to various tests.

In terms of the film's structure it appears to be clearly split into three parts. The first part seems almost to resemble a blaxploitation film, with Cheadle playing the straight-talking, and typically 60s dressing, black man - with flares, waistcoat and perfect afro - who oozes libido for his longtime girlfriend, Vanelle, a mini-dress wearing, Foxy-Brown lookalike.

Some of the jokes at the beginning are slightly clich├ęd, which unfortunately seemed to set the tone for the rest of the film.

The soul/funk soundtrack that accompanies Talk to Me, although the music of legends, seems slightly too much like James Brown's Greatest Hits. Nevertheless, it gets better throughout the film which went on to feature some of the best numbers by Sam Cook and Otis Reading.

The second and third parts of the film attempt to address Greene's rise as the renowned radio and TV personality and voice of his community, which is touched on, but it seems that the sense of sheer influence and success that Greene had in Washington and the rest of the US has not been captured.

Greene fell into depression and alcoholism towards the end of his career, but again the sentiments of this part of his life are, for the most part, not caught in the film.

There are some references to the most famous civil rights leaders - Martin Luther King Jr and Rev Jesse Jackson. The death of Martin Luther King in the film is, I believe, meant to be one of the climaxes of the production.

However, Talk to Me, on the whole, is slightly off the mark. It is neither a fantastic biographical production nor a wonderful portrayal of the civil rights movement. It is more a light hearted production with some cool people and a decent soundtrack.