Talk to Me

2008-02-25 16:08
What it's about:

Based on the life of the charismatic Ralph "Petey" Greene Jr, an ex-con who overcomes a drug-addiction to turn his life around as a popular radio personality in Washington D.C. , the movie follows the events in Petey's life from 1966 to his death in 1984. While in prison he befriends a fellow inmate's brother Dewey Hughes, a programme director at WOL-AM radio station, who promises if he ever gets out of prison he will give him a job. Determined to have an on-air radio gig, Petey hunts Dewey down as soon as he's released from prison.

What we thought of it:

There's nothing spectacular about this film, but Don Cheadle's outstanding portrayal of Petey's soulful sensitivity beneath his macho attitude makes it worth seeing. Cheadle convinces the audience that even a callous ex-convict is able to turn his life around when he becomes a radio personality and a community activist. His I'm-gonna-tell-it-like-it-is attitude at a conservative R&B radio station run by white liberals (whom it turns out aren't as liberal as they think they are) is admirable.

This isn't just a story about an ex-con trying to change his ways, it taps into the history of racism and the intensity of social injustice in the United States at the time of Martin Luther King Jr's assassination. Petey Green's character should be admired for his role in changing the face of the radio industry in the US.

Another issue Talk To Me tackles is the media's role in a country that's in a state of social degeneration. Do we turn a blind eye to everything that's going on around us or do we create a platform for people to air their frustrations and help rebuild what's been lost?

Unfortunately Kasi Lemmons' poor direction demotes this potentially riveting production to being just an average African American movie. She fails to deliver the emotional punch line the story requires to have a long-lasting effect on moviegoers. Were it well directed enough, it would've stimulated debates around social injustice, racism and the difficulties journalists face in changing media content to suit demographics.

- Tiisetso Tlelima
Talk To Me has all the ingredients that make a good movie: brilliant actors and a thought-provoking story-line that's relevant to our lives. But Lemmons' second-rate direction kills the show.

Ryan Matthews 2008/01/24 5:22 PM
I would have given it a little more cred I watched "Talk to me" on a flight from New York late last year. Now, the cinematic experience on a Boeing 747 is pretty darn awful, but I thought this was the ideal type of story-driven biopic that was needed. I'm a big fan of Don Cheadle and thought he was superb. But, my biggest disappointment was the abrupt ending to the film, the roughly connected points of closure, its as if Petey Greene wasn't that important after all. I agree with Tiisetso, poor directing and production let the film down. Three and a half stars.
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