Is a breath of fresh air about a 40 year old Black woman coming of age movie and I love IT!!!
In the new Netflix film, The Forty-Year-Old Version opens with Radha (Radha Blank) is teaching high school students who don’t want to be their anymore than she does as she looks down the road and sees a life she didn’t expect. Life has knocked her down to her knees with the loss of her mother, disappointment in a career that didn’t materialize, and imposed celibacy. She’s in the prime of her life surrounded by kids who flirt too damn much and are NOT worth jail time but her frustration with her agent Archie (Peter Y. Kim) and BFF has her feeling like she’s trapped trying to succeed as a playwriter unwilling to play the expected game of Black torture porn <cough> plays. Radha is behind and in front of the camera telling her own truth that every Black woman has had to deal with micro aggressions, swallowing your pride and opinion for a paycheck or opportunity to be treated less than. It’s that this is the first time ‘meeting’ Radha Blank who is simply effervescent in the self titled role able to embrace and project all the emotions as well as a great cast to play off of.
“The 40-Year-Old Version” was a surprise since it’s in B/W I thought it would be a traditional drama about a Black woman caught up in drugs or jail but instead I got a ‘coming of age’ film about an adult allowing herself to breathe and realize that her life plan might not be the right one. I don’t want to give away anything but one scene as she grasps straws to get a new chance for her lifetime dream <well> I at first truly thought it was a dream sequence it was so amusing that I laughed so hard that I had to rewind it. As we follow Radha and Archie who have switched roles from high school and looking to change the friendship dynamic that isn’t working for either of them. I’m fascinated and delighted by her epiphany that she what she set aside so long ago is the creative outlet that will allow her to blossom again. Her journey to find beats with a rap producer D (Oswin Benjamin), a voice again (after being shut down in the theatre world), and romance was so fun to watch. I can’t put in words how seeing myself (a fat Black woman) that isn’t the sidekick, sexless friend or magical negro makes this a film that’s made for the Black woman view that we don’t often get to see.
The 40-Year-Old Version is about finding yourself with not only Radha but Archie’s journey as a Korean Gay man that’s an agent that at times seems willing to take one for the team to get her another chance. Radha and Archie’s interaction with the theatre producer and the hoops they jump through to navigate the world is something many of us have to deal with. The way they are able to relax or be mad with each other felt so real with my own friendships where you can let your guard down and not have to project around folk. As we see Radha with D as he shows her a ‘brand new world’ elevates the film to a rom-com of Black Love or Black getting to know each other was so much fun to watch. He supported her, listened to her, and accepted her talent before everyone else. I love the support she gave to the students since she was able to see herself in the kids trying to find themselves and to respect their voice (unlike so many others in the theatre world to her).
Radha Blank (writer/director) the 2020 Sundance Film Festival winner of the Directing Prize with her debut that is semi autobiographical and 100% delightful slice of life of a woman breaking past NYC barriers for a woman of a certain age, color and size navigating writing, keeping a roof over her head, death and reborn on the other side.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the 40-Year-Old Version and recommend it with all my heart! It’s a delightful film that is a little over two hours but it passes in a blink of an eye. I felt like I’d been in the desert and been offered cool clean water that quenched my soul.
The Forty-Year-Old Version: 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.
The Forty-Year-Old Version (Rated R)
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed By | Radha Blank
Written By | Radha Blank
Produced By | Lena Waithe, Jordan Fudge, Radha Blank, Inuka Bacote-Capiga, Jennifer Semler, Rishi Rajani
Starring | Radha Blank, Peter Kim, Oswin Benjamin, Imani Lewis, Haskiri Velazquez, Antonio Ortiz, TJ Atoms, Jacob Ming Trent, Stacey Sargeant, William Oliver Watkins, Meghan O’Neill, André Ward, Welker White, with Reed Birney