Review: The 40-Year-Old Version (Sundance 2020)

Title: The 40-Year-Old Version
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Radha Blank
Starring: Radha Blank, Welker White, Jacob Ming-Trent
Runtime: 2 hr 9 mins

What It Is: Radha is a playwright in New York City trying to get her new play about Harlem and gentrification produced. But when it seems like her only option is to lend her story itself to be gentrified by a pretentious producer, she looks back to being a rap artist.

What We Think: From even within the first minute of watching this black and white film do you get a huge laugh. I’m going to do my best not to ramble because there’s so much to say about this film–this was an absolute effervescent and hilarious experience to behold. Blank’s writing and directing is unwavering in its heart, humor, and message as we join her in an artist’s search for peace. It’s a down-to-earth comedy that so accurately covers the struggle between fighting for your vision or settling in order to put your art into the world. It’s both remarkable and disheartening to watch this very real situation in which social issues and representation has become all so blatantly commercialized. And what better way to take us through this meditation than our eccentric, down-to-earth lead herself. It’s so enchanting to see her just exist; even more so to see her expressing herself through the music. It was chill-inducing, mesmerizing to see it all come together. This honestly brought me and the audience I was with so much joy. Not to say there aren’t also a few things to improve upon for the next project–the runtime runs a little too long, dragging in some parts, and some of the actings less than convincing. Even still, this film is plentiful in entertainment and conversation piece.

Our Grade: B+, Definitely watch this with a crowd and some buds–it might end up being put on Netflix soon! For real, this goes down in my book as one of the non-musical movies about music and movies about rap. Honest, funny, and sometimes romantic, The 40-Year-Old Version succeeds shot after shot–if the jokes were bullets I’d be dead forty-times over.

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Chai Simone Written by: