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Review: Charles Murray's Spoken Word Love Story 'Things Never Said' (Opens In LA Friday)

Reviews
by Jai Tiggett
September 4, 2013 1:04 PM
6 Comments
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Shanola Hampton and Omari Hardwick in 'Things Never Said'

In his feature directorial debut, longtime television writer/EP Charles Murray takes a turn from TV action-drama to deliver a decidedly black love story reminiscent of the late '90s heyday of the genre.

Things Never Said centers on Kal (Shanola Hampton), an aspiring spoken word artist using poetry to escape the pain of a miscarriage and an abusive husband (Elimu Nelson). As an LA native, she dreams of performing at the famed Nuyorican Poets Café in New York. When Kal falls for Curtis (Omari Hardwick), a poetry fan with a whole heap of emotional baggage of his own, the two must decide if they have an affair worth preserving.

You could call it a grown-up love story, which points to the complexities of all relationships. Nobody gets off easy - Kal’s best friend Daphne (Tamala Jones) also has a rocky relationship with her boyfriend Steve (Dorian Missick), and the two women dither between supporting each other and judging each other’s choices. Likewise, the flawed marriage of Kal’s parents (Charlayne Woodard, Tom Wright) is cited as the spark for the pattern of abuse in Kal’s life.

Dealing with heavy topics like adultery and abuse that can easily drift into melodrama, Murray ultimately reins it in and makes this a story about the beauty of black love – literally and figuratively. The well-shot film (lensed by Beats, Rhymes & Life DP Robert Benavides and Ryan Hase) offers plenty of artful scenes of black bodies embracing and revels in the beauty of its two leads. Omari Hardwick is quickly becoming the go-to leading man for movies like this, and here he doesn’t disappoint as the tough guy with a sensitive core.

With its focus on spoken word and romance, as Tambay has mentioned, comparisons to Love Jones are inevitable, and I wonder if maybe that’s the point. Audiences have long complained about the lack of black love stories since they faded from prominence over a decade ago. And Things Never Said hits all the familiar ticks of the genre – good-looking couple, healthy dose of drama, grown-and-sexy soundtrack. Murray delivers a technically tight screenplay, infused with a bit of his trademark wit, and poetic in its own right (apparently he wrote Kalindra's spoken word pieces himself.) The film feels a little more polished and predictable, a little less raw and real, than Theodore Witcher’s 1997 film felt at times, but it nevertheless scratches an itch that has been felt by moviegoers for some time.

In the end, Things Never Said is a good-looking film that knows whom it’s trying to please. Now that Murray has made his foray into the genre, we'll be interested to see what comes next.

Ohio Street Pictures will release Things Never Said in theaters in Los Angeles, this FridaySeptember 6.

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6 Comments

  • Frankie Faine | September 6, 2013 2:59 PMReply

    Based on the comments I guess this is why we only ever see movies about African-Americans involving guns. Nobody wants to give anything else a chance. If you knuckleheads don't support films like this, you all deserve the shit Hollywood throws at you.

  • um | September 5, 2013 1:49 PMReply

    saw this in philly. it was pretty bad. like laughable when it wasn't intended to be. Like how can you make a film about a poet and the poetry be terrible....?!?! HOW!?

  • TJM | April 7, 2014 7:28 PM

    Thank you for sharing your views on this film, but I urge you to keep in mind that Kalindra is a beginning poet with only a year of informal training. I actually loved this movie and thought that there where 3 great poems that signified the story line's major turning points: The first 2 by Curtis (who obviously knew a lot about the world of spoken word and had a strong background in literature) and the 3rd by Kalindra (at the end when she finally found her voice which drastically contrasted from her first poem in this movie). Don't limit yourself to just the content, I think you'll gain a better appreciation of this movie if you become aware of the hidden process--that's where the magic is. But of course, that's just my opinion.

  • TJM | April 7, 2014 7:28 PM

    Thank you for sharing your views on this film, but I urge you to keep in mind that Kalindra is a beginning poet with only a year of informal training. I actually loved this movie and thought that there where 3 great poems that signified the story line's major turning points: The first 2 by Curtis (who obviously knew a lot about the world of spoken word and had a strong background in literature) and the 3rd by Kalindra (at the end when she finally found her voice which drastically contrasted from her first poem in this movie). Don't limit yourself to just the content, I think you'll gain a better appreciation of this movie if you become aware of the hidden process--that's where the magic is. But of course, that's just my opinion.

  • Pete | September 5, 2013 2:48 PM

    UM, I saw it in Philly too. How the hell did it won Best Feature????! Somebody
    Cray cray, right? And I think you meant intending instead of intended. If u
    Wanna be grammatically correct, big Patnuh.

  • Amari | September 5, 2013 12:18 PMReply

    That's unfortunate. Usually when there are indie premieres they do LA and New York. I guess I just have to wait a little bit longer.

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