Talk to Me Movie Review
Talk to Me came and went from theaters without much fanfare or discussion, despite the fact that it stars Oscar nominee Don Cheadle and is a surprisingly good movie. About the rise of disc jockey Ralph "Petey" Greene during the volatile 1960's, Talk to Me is an entertaining drama, but it falls a bit short of being an awards contender.
Cheadle stars as Greene, a fast-talking ex-convict who always speaks his mind. After being released from prison, he presses on an informal contact (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) to get a job at a Washington, D.C. radio station. While his approach is radical and controversial, when he finally gets on the air he immediately connects with his primarily black audience. Greene soon becomes a major sensation as he speaks about racial issues in a no-bullshit way, and becomes even bigger when he manages to calm D.C. riots in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. However, as his popularity and star power increases, he becomes increasingly unhappy with the way his career is progressing.
Cheadle is terrific in the lead. You're used to seeing the man in a more reserved kind of character, as a hotel owner (Hotel Rwanda), a businessman (Reign Over Me), a British bomb expert (Ocean's Eleven) and a police officer (Crash), so it's nice to see him in an entirely new element. Petey Greene is a character within himself, and Cheadle embraces the DJ full force. Greene was before my time so I can't comment on how accurate the performance is, but Cheadle is definitely fun to watch.
Chiwetel Ejiofor also turns in a very strong performance.
Talk to Me gives an interesting look at a complex character and the events that shaped his life. The first half of the movie is very strong, especially when its revolving around the death of Dr. King. This emotional segment hits all the right chords, and manages to carry the film for quite a while. Unfortunately, things go downhill a bit as the story progresses; this really isn't the fault of anyone in particular, as the later part of Greene's career just isn't as interesting as when he was starting out. Once the high times pass, the film slows tremendously, character interactions fade (most notably between Cheadle and Ejiofor) and there just really isn't much point.
Talk to Me starts off strong but fades a little near the end, keeping it from having any real impact in the long run. Still, with good acting and some powerful sequences, Talk to Me is an entertaining drama that ranks among the year's better films.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.