A friend of mine posted a Facebook video blog claiming Barry Jenkins' debut film Medicine for Melancholy was the best film he'd seen in years. And since I'm a sucker for anything that's smart, meaningful, witty and, in this case, revolves around an indie black couplet… well I ran to the theater. Medicine for Melancholy was pure satisfaction. I think I was smiling throughout the enitre 88 minutes. Melancholy stars Wyatt Cenac [The Daily Show with Jon Stewart] and newcomer Tracey Heggins. The story unfolds as the couple wakes up after a one-night stand. But that's not the juice. The juice that drives the story is that the couple is also a rarity—they're part of San Francisco's Indie-Hipster scene. And to share time, ideas, and intimacy with each other is even rarer [they both have white lovers].
The couple uses the rest of their post-coital day to get to know each other, unearth San Francisco's dwindling African-American presence, and to enjoy and challenge themselves as two of the very few black faces in the Frisco Indie-Hipster scene. Filmmaker Jenkins is poetically subtle in his storytelling and captures the isolation of two twenty-somethings holding on to their racial identities but wanting to carve out their own style. One of my favorite moments is when the couple, drunk and hungry, stand outside a taco stand and a couple of black men roll up hustling some goods. The couple quickly refuses only to discover the black men were selling organic Kombucha tea to help hydrate their drunk bodies. Loved it! As a former black San Fransisco neo-Soul Indie-Hipster from the 90s, I applaud director Barry Jenkins for his beautiful and much-needed film. I look forward to more!
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.