Theodore Witcher’s Love Jones was one of those 90’s films that was either a mandatory viewing or an unseen gem depending on the social circles one frequented. Which is why its inclusion in the Black Star series is so important, it gives many who missed it the first time around another opportunity to fall in love with the film.
Love Jones follows the complicated relationship between Darius (Larenz Tate), a writer and poet from Chicago, and Nina (Nia Long), a talented photographer on the cusp of taking her career to the next level. Told over a lengthy period of time the film charts key moments for the couple, from their first meeting at a spoken-word event to the ups and downs of their careers to the re-emergence of Nina’s ex-fiancée.
Dripping in 90’s black culture, and flowing on its jazzy vibe, Love Jones is one of those rare romances where the black individuals are allowed to be complex individuals. There is no element of crime or violence, just educated people who are trying to weather the rocky road of love just as their white counterparts do in most mainstream romantic comedies. This is a film where the question of whether Darius and Nina are just kicking it or are they truly in love is as fascinating as they elements that could possibly keep them apart.
The supporting characters in Love Jones are not as richly written as they could be; side stories involving friends Savon (Isaiah Washington) and Hollywood (Bill Bellamy) feel fragmented and undeveloped. Thankfully, the way Witcher constructs Darius and Nina more than make up for the occasional shortcomings. Nina, in particular, is a revelation as she is never portrayed as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but rather a well-rounded woman who we could all identify with in our own lives.
Presenting characters in a world that feels lived in and relatable, Love Jones is an engaging film about people trying to communicate with each other. It is a film that deserves to be discovered and appreciated by a whole new generation.
Thursday, October 10, 6:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox