It should be no surprise that I’m a sucker for a movie about #BlackLove. Of course, I hit play on Netflix’s Really Love to enjoy the eye candy that is Kofi Siriboe, or Siribae as I’ve seen on these internet streets.
Set in DC, Really Love is a love story centered around Isaiah Maxwell (Kofi Siriboe), a struggling artist (a painter), who falls in love with Stevie Solomon (Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing), a law school student with affluent parents. His parents nag him to get a real job, while her parents are less than ecstatic about her union with Isaiah. The two first crossed paths, briefly, while attending an art show for Isaiah’s artist friend played by Michael Ealy. When they meet again, officially, they discover that they share mutual friends in a couple. Stevie is friends with the girlfriend played by Jade Eshete (who is absolutely gorgeous). Isaiah is friends with a character played by Tristan “Mack” Wilds.
People need to dial back the comparisons to Love Jones. I get it. It crossed my mind. The shadow of Love Jones has lingered for decades. I own the DVD. Not that I’ve dusted if off lately, but I did rewatch the film when it became available in June 2021 for streaming on Netflix. The film had a new resurgence. It was also the inspiration for Season 4 Episode 8 of The Chi on Showtime.
There’s a shortage of mainstream, blockbuster Black love stories. It seems like there are more rom-coms like The Best Man than straight romance. Late 2020, we did get Sylvie’s Love, but we have to admit that Sylvie was trifling. Had she been a man, she would’ve been torn to shreds on social media. Malcolm & Marie was the most toxic love story I’ve ever seen. Talk about triggering. I had to talk to my therapist. Really Love and Love Jones in particular have in common that one main character is a creative (Isaiah is a painter), there’s poor communication and suppressed feelings that lead to a break-up. Relax! That’s not a spoiler. That’s literally the template for all romance and rom-coms—movies and novels.
Naturi Naughton, Uzo Aduba, and the late Suzanne Douglas are also in the film. Fine AF Kofi as Isaiah still reminded me of Kofi as Ralph Angel in Queen Sugar. He always has a look of brooding and longing. Joining Siriboe, Ealy and Wilds as eye candy I mean male actors in the film is Blair Underwood. He doesn’t remove his shirt in this film like in Set It Off or A Soldier’s Play, so no abs were on display.
One of my favorite scenes is when Mack Wilds’ character pulls Kofi in for a second hug immediately after an good-night hug. Kofi is still heartbroken over the break-up with Stevie. The scene reminded me of when Courtney B. Vance’s character surprises his aspiring sommelier son at his hotel right before an important event in Prentice Penny’s film Uncorked. As Vance barges through the door, he mumbles something along the lines of “Your mother would kill me if I didn’t come.”
Really Love has a similar scene when Isaiah’s slow-to-being-proud parents show up to his gallery exhibition opening. Unabashed Black men showing love and supporting each other is beautiful, as was all the melanin in every scene of this movie. Everyone was melanated and moisturized. I was mesmerized by how well it was captured beautifully. Lighting was on point—much like Queen & Slim. Scenes were dark, but characters weren’t washed out. Isaiah neglecting to thank Stevie at his opening is reminiscent of what causes tension between Malcolm and Marie in yet another Netflix film, Malcolm & Marie, starring John David Washington and Zendaya.
The next part is a spoiler because I can’t not write about it. You can stop here if you need to. Before you go, I’ll say that I liked the movie a lot. It was sweet, frustrating, and beautiful, as a love story should be. Also, the lovemaking scene was hot! It was especially beautiful considering that in response to Steve asking him how does he know when a painting is done, he asked her how do you know when you’re making love. Just a beautiful scene! Other scenes of Kofi in various stages of undress were also jaw-dropping. I’m speaking specifically when he was on his couch, shirtless.
On to the spoiler:
This is literally the word for word reaction I scribbled in my notebook immediately after finishing the movie after it’s premiere late Friday night (early Saturday morning) as the credits rolled. I rewound the scene at least six times and recorded it on my phone because it hit me right in my chest.
OMG! The scene when Stevie sees the oil painting of herself at Isaiah’s second ever solo gallery show. She’s naked with a single breast exposed and the opposite leg is propped up as she leans against a green wall. We see a shot of her back as she stares at the painting, then another shot of her face, and Isaiah, blurred appears over her shoulder in the background, then he crosses over to the other side. He visibly sighs before he makes slow steps to approach her. She blinks with barely visible tears in her eyes that don’t fall. Scene cuts to black. Credits. Oh my heart! The instrumental music adds to the tension of these soon-to-be-reunited lovers.
At one point the camera cuts to the placard displaying the painting’s info. The painting is called “Her” and it’s part of the artist’s personal collection. It’s not for sale! It’s for him to keep. And it’s the painting that Tristan Wilds saw when he was visiting Isaiah that caused him to pause when he saw it, ask if they’d been in contact and later draw him in for the double hug.
I wanted to hug someone when the movie ended, but alone on my couch, all I could do was cradle my throw pillow and long for the day when I finally, really find a love of my own.