Robert (Henson) picked the wrong time to meet his soul mate! After being fired from his own father's company, he feels like his luck has run out - until Morgan (Dennis) enters into his life...
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Robert (Henson) picked the wrong time to meet his soul mate! After being fired from his own father's company, he feels like his luck has run out - until Morgan (Dennis) enters into his life. Just as things start to heat up between them, trouble brews as Morgan's ex-husband (Rucker) vows to get her back and Robert's gold-digging ex-girlfriend (Hubbard) returns with an agenda of her own. With the help of his cousin (Keyes), Robert's about to find out how much good can come out of a bad situation in this charming romantic comedy that's good to the last drop.Written by
When Mark Harris's Black Coffee ended, I felt like I was still waiting for the film to begin. The film's poster, trailer, and title give it the impression that there will be themes and ideas about black entrepreneurship and private enterprise, that would've made for a wickedly entertaining subject that has never, to my knowledge, been articulated in film. Instead, writer/director Harris gives us something we've seen far, far too often; a relationship drama where all the characters are flat as a board and all there is a cloying artificiality to the characters, their motivations, and their interactions with one another.
The film concerns Robert (Darrin Dewitt Henson), an amiable man who gets fired from his own father's company and simultaneously loses his money-hungry girlfriend Mita (Erica Hubbard) all in the same day. Robert sticks by his cousin Julian (Christian Keyes) for personal guidance after meeting and falling for an attractive woman named Morgan (Gabrielle Dennis) as well as trying to find gigs as a painter. Furthermore, trouble brews like a cup of piping-hot coffee when Morgan's ex-husband Hill (Lamman Rucker) attempts to get her back, as well as Mita revealing she had been in a relationship with Robert's now ex-boss the whole time and is hungering for his company (meaning his money) once more, throwing everything into a dramatic tailspin.
There is enough melodrama in this picture to sustain two consecutive Tyler Perry films and a TV show, and Harris attempts to introduce the film's many characters, get us to like the ones we're supposed to and loathe the ones we don't, show numerous instances of betrayal, drama, intensity, and connections, and give us an ending we believe all in the time frame of eighty minutes. Quite a lofty ambition, but it should come as little surprise that the film is just short of being completely and totally abysmal. Simply put, the motivations had by characters - especially Robert's cloying and unrealistic "forgive and forget" attitude towards his ex-girlfriend's treatment of him when she comes groveling back, even offering her a place on his couch - aren't the least bit believable.
The squeaky-clean dialog is also not a very accurate portrayal either. Not every film needs to have excessive amounts of cursing, but Black Coffee's constant desire to possess an annoyingly sunny, look-on-the-bright-side definition isn't only unrealistic but delusional. These characters dangerously approach the lines of being completely unfazed by anything, deluding and sugarcoating current events in their lives as if cheating, deception, and betrayal are normal, every-day "it happens" sort of deals. It's frightening how the characters never seem to get that aggravated or hurt by their peers' actions, and when they do show it, it's in a contrived and disgustingly phony manner.
Aside from the film's grave amount of flaws, it at least looks unbelievably gorgeous, with an indescribable antiseptic slickness to the cinematography, done by Adam Lee. The film has no problem in the looks department, portraying society as if we're viewing it from a crystal-clear, recently-washed window, again adding to my idea that the film has a constant desire to keep on the sunny side, downplaying disgusting moments of human deception as if they're not really anything to bat an eye at. As an adolescent with a short-fuze, high-anxiety, and an often low self-esteem, I wish I had the restraint and control the characters in Black Coffee have. Unfortunately, I am located in reality.
The real tragedy of Black Coffee, however, isn't its depressing focus in the realm of cinema that tries to be of human interest but ends up being unrealistic and it isn't that its characters take a blow from a pound of rocks with as a tickle from a grain of salt. It's that this picture should actually be about black entrepreneurship. Why did we have to dive into Robert's relationship life? Couldn't we see him maybe open a coffee shop, fight competition, deal with backlash and dissent from family, and maybe have to gain moral and physical help from his cousin Julian? It could've been a beautiful parable and a great film to showcase the often underestimated black businessman and entrepreneur. Instead, we got one of the worst possible substitutes.
Starring: Darrin Dewitt Henson, Erica Hubbard, Christian Keyes, Gabriella Dennis, and Lamman Rucker. Directed by: Mark Harris.
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