Movie Review: I Will FollowPublished by Clay Cane on Monday, September 20, 2010 at 2:24 pm.
Summary: Maye (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) is grappling with the loss of her aunt, Amanda Fisher, who died of breast cancer. While cleaning out the house she shared with her aunt, she has interactions with several people who help the grieving process. A tour de force of emotions, touched with sadness, but ultimately resulting in inspiration and optimism.
Review: I Will Follow is Ava DuVernay’s first feature-length film that is not a documentary, but she is no stranger to cinema. She was the director behind the eye-opening documentary This is The Life and BET’s recent My Mic Sounds Nice. In a time where filmmakers are suddenly birthed because they have a digital camera and WiFi, DuVernay is refreshing. The UCLA grad has a long resume and has taken the time to understand the art of making films.
I Will Follow is an independent movie, but it could easily stand next to any Hollywood blockbuster drama with its unique storytelling, polished cinematography and ferocious actors. Independent or not, to date, I Will Follow is the best film of 2010. The flick made its world premiere at the 2010 14th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival this past weekend.
In less-is-more fashion, I Will Follow takes place in one location with Richardson-Whitfield giving the best performance of her 20-plus-year career. Her character Maye spent the past year caring for her aunt living with breast cancer, causing deep friction with her aunt’s daughter, Fran, played by the outstanding Michole White.
I Will Follow could’ve easily fallen into the trite chick-flick trappings of cry, laugh, find a man and walking away in the sunset. However, the movie is brilliantly unpredictable, the true personification of dramatic filmmaking. It’s neither happy nor sad, just boldly human.
Richardson-Whitfield, who is known for films like I Am Legend, floated on screen with a riveting performance that one can only hope will be recognized in some capacity this award season. There is also Omari Hardwick, who has a role in For Colored Girls, delivering a strong performance. But, he wasn’t just the sexy man on screen; while the ladies will swoon, he performs a solid monologue that is a must-see for any aspiring actors. Blair Underwood was, as usual, a force that cannot be ignored. Plus, there is Glee’s Dijon Talton, who has more lines than he has ever had on the hit TV show and held his own with veterans of the screen.
But, it was Michole White, an actress who has been consistently working for over 20 years, who rips your cinematic heart out. A scene between Richardson and White was one of the greatest moments I’ve seen between two actors on screen in the past 10 years. Its dramatic intensity stood right next to Halle Berry’s Things We Lost in the Fire or Charlize Theron’s Monster. If all things were fair in Hollywood, and if the movie gets the publicity it deserves, Michole White would have an Oscar nomination under her belt. If all things were fair…
I Will Follow revolves around the lives of African Americans, but it transcends one cultural experience. Storylines that tackle the complexities of race are important, but DuVernay proves not every Black film needs to highlight the woes of racism or poverty. Her film is sprinkled with diverse characters that range from Black, White, young, older, gay, working class—with mentions of rock & roll and hip-hop. Honestly, in most American experiences, our lives are more diverse than Hollywood depicts.
At every angle, I Will Follow is a hailing achievement for writer and director Ava DuVernay. If you need explosions, guns, gratuitous sex, or epic CGI, then I Will Follow is not for you. But, if you want a movie with a flawless script, passionate actors, tears and laughs that result in inspiration, then this is a must-see. This is a story that will stay with you for many days after. Without question, I Will Follow is a full dose of humanity and makes me proud to be associated with the film industry.
Continue to check back with BET.com for when I Will Follow will be available in your area.