I wanted to see this movie this weekend and much to my surprise it still wasn’t playing at AMC. This movie probably has been the most advertised movie of this summer, and every time I went to see a movie at AMC for the past few months it has been playing as a preview. I went to the Dedham Community Theater, one of my favorites due to its low prices and the low attendance. I also love that about 90% of its attendees are probably older than the theater itself.
Anyways, I caught the movie we’ve all heard about and it’s a wonderful blending of comedy, drama, tragedy, and soul that sticks with you for the rest of the day. I couldn’t get this movie out of my head, and I recommend it with high regard. This movie belongs to Don Cheadle. He plays Petey Greene Jr., a recently released ex-con who has a knack for speaking his mind on the radio and connecting with the African American community. The film chronicles Petey’s rise to fame and his relationship with his manager. I’ve always been a fan of Cheadle, noticing both his dramatic side and his comedic side. This film takes both of them, throws on a James Brown record, and lets Cheadle loose and he not only gives his best performance but also the best performance I’ve seen from an actor in a film this year. He became a completely different person (much like in the “Ocean’s” films and Hotel Rwanda) and I got lost in yet another terrific film. His performance is superior than the film itself, but the film is still a very entertaining look back at the 60s and 70s, on par with films like “Boogie Nights” and “Ray”.
Not only does this film offer Don Cheadle’s best performance, it also has Chiwetel Ejiofor. Chewy (I don’t know if that’s really a nickname) happens to be one of my favorite actors on the screen right now, and he really scores another great role with this film. He plays the Petey’s friend and manager Dewey Hughes, the man who believed in Petey more than anyone else. Ejiofor sadly has to deal with some unfortunate fake facial hair throughout the film (that spans a few decades) but he still works through it. Ejiofor makes the screen feel cool, even when you see the stupid things his character is doing. Other supporting roles from Martin Sheen (as the Station Manager) and *gasp* Cedric the Entertainer (as the super sexy night show radio host), make the film even more entertaining to watch.
Underneath the story of Petey Greene’s rise to fame, the movie is really about the friendship between Greene and Hughes. Films often have this theme and don’t offer what feels like a real friendship between its characters. This film succeeds. From beginning to end I actually cared about these characters. The most memorable part of the film takes place during the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. This part of the film is not that long, but it really stands out and is extremely moving. Petey Greene takes all the anger and sadness of the people and just cools them down and I really felt that, at this point, Don Cheadle had fully realized his character. The film also breaks the convention of the modern biopic, and doesn’t use any exaggerations of Petey Greene as a character (something I attribute to both the acting and writing) unlike Jamie Foxx in “Ray.”
My biggest problem with the film had nothing to do with the film itself. This release date is ridiculous. This movie deserves to be released in the Oscar season of November-December when you are almost guaranteed a nomination. Cheadle is a surefire contender but the rest of the film will be completely ignored (especially the much-deserving Ejiofor). I also thought that the title was a little weak but didn’t take too much away from the film. The music is wonderful, the acting is top-notch, and I didn’t find anything disappointing about “Talk to Me” in the least. I give “Talk to Me” an: