Talk To Me (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/10/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Talk To Me features terrific performances from Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor but Lemmons' bog-standard direction means that it lacks the emotional impact it deserves.

What's it all about?
Based on a true story (though taking one or two liberties with the truth), Talk To Me stars Don Cheadle as charismatic ex-con Ralph "Petey" Green, who smooth-talks his way into a job as a radio presenter in 1966 Washington DC, forging a lasting relationship with the man who gave him the job, station manager Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Dewey's boss (Martin Sheen) is initially horrified by Petey's politically outspoken, frequently outrageous style, but it proves a huge hit with listeners and when Georgetown residents threaten to riot after Martin Luther King's assassination, it's Petey who calms them down.

Petey goes on to become a national icon and a champion of the civil rights movement, irrevocably changing the radio industry in the process. However, fame takes its toll and Petey's ensuing alcoholism eventually threatens his career, as well as his tempestuous relationship with his fiery-tempered girlfriend, Vernell (Taraji P Henson).

The Good
Cheadle is terrific as Green, in a performance that is, as the London Film Festival brochure notes, part Richard Pryor, part Jesse Jackson. He also has superb onscreen chemistry with Ejiofor, who's equally good as the ambitious Hughes.

There's also strong support from both Martin Sheen and a scene-stealing Taraji P Henson, though the rest of the supporting cast barely register, with the exception of Cedric the Entertainer, in an amusing role as the station's big star before Petey comes along.

The Bad
That said, Lemmons' direction is something of a mixed bag. While she creates a strong sense of time and place (through the use of integrated TV clips and a kick-ass soundtrack), she fails to deliver the emotional punch that the story requires.

Worth seeing?
In short, Talk To Me is engaging throughout but never as exciting as it should be and it's tempting to imagine what someone like Spike Lee might have made of it. Still, it's worth seeing for the superb performances from its two leads.

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Talk To Me (15)
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Content updated: 19/10/2017 02:44

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