Don Cheadle plays D.C. radio personality and activist Petey Greene to Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s straight-laced radio program director Dewey Hughes in this biopic from director Kasi Lemmons, who made some noise a decade ago (and won the adoration of Roger Ebert) with the Spirit Award-winning "Eve’s Bayou."
Stephanie Zacharek at Salon describes the film as "an imperfect picture that’s alive every minute, a movie that perfectly captures the vibe of a person, a place, a time and a way of being, and even gets, indirectly and without a whiff of sanctimoniousness, to the heart of what being an American ought to mean." At the New York Times, A.O. Scott deems the film "funny, earnest, affectionate," pointing out the way it "steers clear of the usual biopic conventions" and focuses on the dynamic, complex partnership between Greene and Hughes. Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly finds the film a little "episodic" but still loves the performances, particular Cheadle’s. Roger Ebert is impressed by the film’s angle on the assassination of Martin Luther King, "focusing on the pain of the living," as well as its final third, which tracks Greene’s venture into stand-up and his downfall.
At Slant, Nick Schager writes that "Talk to Me" follows "a rather standard and unexceptional what-comes-up-must-come-down narrative arc," but admires Lemmons’ enthusiasm. The LA Weekly‘s Ella Taylor wants to like the film, notes a lot of the things it has going for it, but believes that neither the director nor the screenwriters "have much of a feel for character, let alone story," and concludes that the Lemmons’ "jive-talking shtick" often made her feel "as though someone had trapped me in a time-warped episode of The Jeffersons." Nathan Lee at the Village Voice calls the film an "earnest, ineffectual history lesson" that "lacks every kind of specificity (historical, psychological, socio-cultural) but redeems itself through the dedication of its Cheadlicious lead." And the New York Press‘ Armond White to prompted to sighs that "Nostalgia has taken the place of research and insight in faux black American histories like Talk to Me, Dreamgirls, Ray and Aliâ€”the new cinematic chitlinâ€™ circuit" while accusing Lemmons of not knowing "enough about African-American experience to fill a chitlinâ€™."
+ "Talk to Me" (Focus Features)