After winning countless awards and honors at film festivals, Medicine for Melancholy opens at IFC Film theaters in New York this weekend and follows two young African-Americans in San Francisco as they ponder race, class, and what “two black people do on a Sunday” when a one-night stand is extended into a 24-hour journey.
Medicine opens on that awkward morning after a party and perfectly expresses the uncomfortable moments that follow a spontaneous hook-up with a stranger then develops into a sweet romantic film as Micah, played by The Daily Show‘s Wyatt Cenac, tries to build a relationship with the apprehensive Joanne, played by Tracey Heggins.
Set against the picturesque landscape of San Francisco’s rolling hills and beautifully filmed in a muted color tonality that evokes the word melancholy, Medicine expresses the angst of young black adults who, like Joanne, are still “figuring it out.
Cenac is endearing and funny as a self-employed aquarium installer who pursues Heggins’ character, even when he interrupts the mood by constantly pressing her with issues of race. The gentrification of San Francisco also weighs heavily on the film and serves as a distraction to the real issues of the newfound relationship, like infidelity and whether there is even a future to their budding relationship.
Directed by Barry Jenkins and produced by Justin Barber, Medicine for Melancholy is a welcome departure from the tragedy that is usually found in black indie films like the Sundance winner Push. Finally a film that explores the angst of those t-shirt wearing, bicycle riding, alternative rock listening black hipsters everywhere -and Blindie thinks it’s about time!