2007 - United States - 118 minutes
Director - Kasi Lemmons
Writers - Michael Genet and Rick Famuyiwa
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars
I remember many of my experiences in the late 60's and 70's as sort of an over-the-top caricature of real life, and, basically, I find that a pretty valid description of Talk to Me. Just as my memories of those times are glossed over by fond and crazy memories so is this film, but that didn't keep me from really enjoying it.
The film was advertised as a biopic of Washington, D.C., radio and television talk-show personality, Petey Greene. He grew up on the mean streets of D.C. and was eventually sent to prison. Greene was a master hustler and larger than life personality - the perfect persona for a talk-show host. During his time in prison, he gained experience as an incarcerated DJ and used that experience to break into radio talk after his release. He became a noted figure of social consciousness in D.C. during those turbulent times of civil unrest in the quest for civil rights for the everyday African American man and woman. He accomplished a great deal in his fifty-three years but was always haunted by demons of his past and his additions to drugs and alcohol.
Don Cheadle is a joy to watch as Petey. He is an excellent actor and gives us a delightful taste of a man struting through his world as a larger-than-life character all the while trying to suppress his deep feelings of insecurity.
In reality, the film is actually more of a biography of Dewey Hughes who started working in lowly jobs in a D.C. radio station and went on to become a mover and shaker in both radio and television.
Hughes is played by British actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and he does an amazing job at capturing the accent of the two sides of his character. In the film, Hughes is depicted as a Black man raised in poverty who has accomplished a great deal - extremely proper speech being one. During most of the film, Ejiofor speaks in that tongue, but there are times when his character expresses himself in a very believable way using the language of the streets - all of this from an actor with a British accent.
Cheadle and Ejiofor give us an engrossing look at two talented men who spend most of their time at odds with one another all the while covering respect, envy, and love. Even though their relationship in the film is highly romanticized, it is still good, solid entertainment.
Not to demean the excellent acting all around, it is the production that makes this film a great indulgence - especially for me. Most of it takes place during the 70's which was both a tragic and totally wacky decade of American history. This film is filled with great costumes and scenes that will bring bitter-sweet memories to anyone of my generation. It's a great treat.
November 5, 2007