Friday 9 October 2020

The Forty-Year-Old Version (Movie Review)

Chances are you haven't heard about the comedy film, The Forty-Year-Old Version. It was one of those under-the-radar films that made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it won the U.S. Dramatic Competition Directing Award for first-time director, Radha Blank. This was before 2020 devolved into what it is today, and moviegoing became a dangerous proposition. But its showing at Sundance was strong enough to attract the attention of Netflix, where it debuted earlier today.

Radha Blank not only directs The Forty-Year-Old Version, a semi-autobiographical film about a New York City playwright named Radha, she also wrote the screenplay and stars in the movie. In the film, she has been struggling to catch her big break, ever since she was featured on a 30 under 30 list of upcoming playwrights. As she quickly approaches 40 years of age, she starts to question her dedication and life choices.

She currently works as a teacher in a public school, to help pay the bills while trying to write a play that would be good enough to get her on Broadway. During one particular night of introspection, she experiences an epiphany that reignites her childhood love for rap and rhyming. And that love would lead her on a path to self discovery, as she sets out to record a mixtape under the stage name, RadhaMus Prime.

The Forty-Year-Old Version is possibly the funniest thing I have seen this year. There is something about Radha Blank and her self-deprecating humor that just hits you on so many levels. Which is not to say that she wasn't backed by some equally talented co-stars. But the fact that she pulls double duty behind the camera just goes further to highlight her incredible talent. I would definitely love to see her take on even more roles and projects in the future.

The movie isn't all about jokes and gags though, as it still manages to tell a compelling story about a woman trying to find her place while going against the odds. The choice to film most of the movie in black and white is an interesting one that never gets in the way of the movie's ability to paint a vivid picture of New York City life. Perhaps it was done to further highlight the divide between blacks and whites living in the city. Whatever the case, the film was never anything less than stunning to look at.

The Forty-Year-Old Version is another rare gem that has managed to find the spotlight in a year where most other movies have fled to 2021. It joins the ranks of Da 5 Bloods as one of the best films of the year, and should be required viewing for anyone with access to a Netflix account.

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