On My TV Screen

Film: "Medicine for Melancholy" (2008)

"Medicine for Melancholy" (2008)At the advice of a very good friend (whose opinion about movies I trust above all others), I recently sat down to watch Medicine for Melancholy— a 2008 film by breakout independent film director Barry Jenkins.  I didn’t know what to expect, though I could tell after a single glance at the DVD’s cover that two young, edgy, attractive African-American co-stars would be situated at the story’s core.

The cover shows Jo, portrayed by the beautiful Tracey Heggins, leaning into Micah (Wyatt Cenac) while the two embrace; the look on Jo’s face is definitely one of bliss, or maybe pensiveness. The two stand out from among the sea of other faces that make up the background of the photo. Anyone who has ever talked about films with me knows that I’m a diehard fan of films whose story lines are along the same line as the 1997 hit Love Jones. In short, one look and I was sold.

Soon after the movie began, I found myself captivated by the director’s emphasis on the characters’ body language and the sweeping, breathtaking shots of the city of San Francisco. After just a few moments I was hooked; throughout the rest of the film, I gained an appreciation for both actors as well as the movie’s many statements about gentrification and the state of contemporary San Francisco. 

Many critics have remarked on the gaping silences that pervade the film and cause our two characters to spend many moments peering at one another from behind the facades that they try desperately to put up, but I must say that in my opinion, these only serve to make the film stronger. I’ll also mention here that those artists who contributed to the film’s soundtrack (performed by a variety of independent artists) really put forth a great body of work, and if you’re anything like me, then you’ll find yourself frantically searching Google in order to find out who created these timeless tracks. 

In short, “Medicine for Melancholy” is a “must see”!

--by Mack Simon Jr.