There is a piquant contrast between the calm, almost nurturing personality of filmmaker Kasi Lemmons and that of radio pioneer, Petey Green, the bombastic subject of her film, TALK TO ME. But, as I discovered when I talked to her on June 5, 2007, there is the same drive, the same commitment, and the same passion for what she believes in. As she recharged with strong coffee, the conversation covered music budgets, recreating the volatile 1960s without resorting to cliches, and, like Petey, keeping it real.
“Wake up, God damn it!” is how TALK TO ME begins and that’s exactly what is going to happen to its lead characters, the people in their orbit, and the entire city of Washington D.C. The story may be formulaic, albeit based on actual events, but stars Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor take charge of screen so decisively that any shortcomings in the script are strictly secondary to their dynamic performances.
TALK TO ME does a fine job of recreating the turmoil of the 60s, gliding through those years with a crisp efficiency that gets the zeitgeist, both heady and edgy, but it does an even better job of depicting the male-bonding process in a way that doesn’t rely on glib clichés. It’s a tribute to the power of friendship, even when it goes wrong. It, like Petey, has a few rough spots, but the unabashed heart that is the motivating force at work here is as irresistible as Petey’s unvarnished charm.