Fifteen years ago a lovely little picture graced our screens and I instantly recognized it as a solidly made, well-acted piece of work.
In the years since its initial theatrical run, I find it unfortunate that Love Jones did not capture a wider audience because, at its heart, it is a simple story about two people who have found one another and are trying to make it work.
It is a modern-day urban love story set in the Chicago of step-dancing (aka, ‘steppin’), poetry slams and smoky jazz clubs. Our chief protagonists, photographer Nina (Nia Long) and writer/poet Darius (Larenz Tate) are twenty-something bohemians navigating both the urban and relationship landscape.
Their friends hang around the periphery of their lives and are ever-present to the audience, who bear witness to their successes and failures in securing lasting, meaningful relationships; this provides a perfect foil for our central characters.
Through these highs and lows, trial and tribulations, we the audience are left rooting our couple. By the time the closing credits roll, will we be allowed to exhale in the knowledge that they work it out?
In his feature film début, writer/director Theodore Witcher strikes a perfect balance between the light comedy and dramatic tension.
And the interplay between Tate and Long is fantastic; these are two actors that I would have liked to see a lot more of in leading roles.
If there is one thing that kind of makes me chuckle on the inside is the portrayal of the bohemian lifestyle these two (and their friends) lead. This aspect of the film teeters very close to falling into the trap of the Hollywood cliché of how folks who lead ‘artsy-fartsy’ lives go about them – I only wish my life was this exciting and dynamic!
It would be wrong of me to mention this film without mentioning the awesome soundtrack.
So in the lead-up to that day of love, Valentine’s Day for the uninitiated, seek this one out.