Talk to Me

"Very Good"

Talk to Me Review


Two biopics opened this year (within weeks of each other) that analyze gifted men who rise to powerful positions in their chosen professions before eroding beneath the fringe benefits of their unexpected success. Yet beyond that thematic connection, the movies could not be more different.

The first, Leon Ichaso's El Cantante, scrubs away crucial details when recollecting the life of salsa singer Hector Lavoe, leaving an empty shell that begs for further insight. But Talk to Me takes the opposite approach, constructing such a complete image of proud and passionate radio host Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene that we immediately understand why the deep flaws in his personality could only have led to his downfall.

Greene started small but grew big -- bigger than he wanted, in fact -- and Kasi Lemmons' fiery Talk documents chunks of the man's professional life that begins with him entertaining fellow inmates at the Lorton Reformatory prison a few miles south of Washington, D.C. A life like Greene's holds countless anecdotes. Lemmons chooses two that lend perspective to the deejay's journey: the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King and Greene's eventual appearance on The Tonight Show.

His break arrived years before, in the late '60s. Right as program director Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) requires an infusion of new blood at Washington talk station WOL-AM, "Petey" Greene (Don Cheadle) flows onto the scene. Greene's voice speaks for the listeners, and he knows the value that brings to the struggling station. This allows Cheadle to glide with a confidence, and arrogance, normally attributed to Muhammad Ali. Watching Cheadle in this role, it's also clear that should Hollywood ever attempt a Richard Pryor movie, Cheadle will be essential to the film's success.

But Talk isn't a one-man show. Over a pool table in a pivotal scene, Dewey drops his pedigreed façade and proves he's Petey's equal. Maybe even his superior. Ejiofor does the same, matching Cheadle's unfiltered spark flash for flash. Which performer emerges on top? Who cares? It's a joy to see these talents dance toe-to-toe. They are the brightest stars in a formidable cast that includes Martin Sheen, Cedric The Entertainer and an extraordinary Taraji P. Henson. Equally impressive is the unmistakable work of musician Terrence Blanchard, who compiles a scorching soundtrack of '60s and '70s funk.

Movies about flighty characters need sturdy branches on which to land, and Talk receives one when an assassin's bullet claims the life of MLK. The civil rights leader's murder gives Greene a purpose and provides Talk with a podium past the simple story of a brassy ex-convict throwing his attitude around.

Talk does not pretend Greene was a good man, just a human one. Lemmons shows him playing the victim, and bullying those that stand in his way. Screenwriters Michael Genet and Rick Famuyima must not have received the official memo that society is retiring the controversial "N" word, because Greene spreads the language around like fertilizer on a manicured lawn. But Talk takes us back to better times, when broadcasters dared to speak to their audience with honesty, and dedicated listeners responded in kind.

Talk to the hair.



Talk to Me

Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd August 2007

Box Office USA: $4.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $4.8M

Distributed by: Focus Features

Production compaines: The Mark Gordon Company, Pelagius Film

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Fresh: 104 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Miles Dale, , Bruce Toll

Starring: as Ralph Waldo 'Petey' Greene, as Dewey Hughes, Taraji P. Henson as Vernell Watson, as E.G. Sonderling, as Milo Hughes, as 'Nighthawk' Bob Terry, as Sunny Jim Kelsey, Sean MacMahon as Ronnie Simmons, J. Miles Dale as Program Director, Herbert Rawlins as James Brown, Donald James Malmberg as Johnny Carson

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.