Out today on Netflix is THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION the debut from writer/producer/director/actress Radha Blank – who has said the story is partially influenced by Robert Townsend’s classic “Hollywood Shuffle” in its display of an artist striving against the gatekeepers of Black expression.
Here’s the synopsis: “Radha, a down-on-her-luck NY playwright, is desperate for a breakthrough before 40. But when she foils what seems like her last shot at success, she’s left with no choice but to reinvent herself as rapper RadhaMUSPrime. The Forty-Year-Old Version follows Radha as she vacillates between the worlds of Hip Hop and theater on a quest to find her true voice.”
I enjoyed everything about this film. It’s witty, intelligent, artsy, and infused with hip-hop culture and references. It’s a love letter to and motivational push for artistry unfulfilled, especially for those folks of a certain age, as well as a lesson on starting over
Focusing on the aforementioned, it is reminiscent of Neil Drumming’s “Big Words,” that starred Dorian Missick and Yaya Alafia – and also has the same extremely on-point comedic delivery.
The film also displays a wide array of diverse characters, both race and identity wise, and Blank in the lead herself is a beautiful example of an almost forty full-figured gem. Added in that mix is Oswin Benjamin, who nails his screen debut as D, and a hilarious Peter Kim as Radha’s manager Archie.
Blank’s choice to film in black & white – with subtle color placed in certain scenes – layers the story with an older sophistication, keeping the character-driven story in the forefront, while ultimately still being very modern.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention loving Andre Ward’s cameo – many of you may know Ward as Manhattan from the FX hit show “Pose.”
“The Forty-Year-Old Version” is definitely one of my favorite films of 2020. I deem it mandatory watching for anyone still pursuing a dream or an artistic endeavor while facing adversity and/or naysayers – even if that naysayer is the person in the mirror – all of my fellow creatives of a certain age, and especially all women who believe their time to achieve success has or is about to pass.
I rate the film 5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
Until next thought, Thomasena