Film Review: Premature

Teenagers – expected to behave like adults, but treated like children…

Met with positive reception at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, Rashaad Ernesto Green’s Premature is an endearing love story. After watching Call Me by Your Name, I thought that would have been the last time I saw a younger-person-is-attracted-to-the-older-person sort of film. Boy was I wrong.

Even though this film is from an angle of a heterosexual relationship, the film’s characters reminded me so much of Elio and Oliver, due to the plot which also follows a teenager who has a summer with an older man.

The film stars leading lady Zora Howard (who also co-wrote the film) as seventeen-year-old Ayanna, whose last few days of a carefree, particularly innocent summer are over when she meets Isaiah (Joshua Boone), a charming music producer, on a basketball court in the lively district of Harlem, New York.

Ayanna is a somewhat confident person, more so with her friends, including Eighth Grade’s Imani Lewis, who delivers an excellent performance here too. She spends her days with her friends as a foursome going up and down with the occasional mention of Ayanna’s poetry as a talking point for both stars.

Budding poet Ayanna is interrupted through Isaiah’s irresistibly confident nature. The chemistry between the two is outstanding and soon turns into a summer of romance with consequential results.

The one problem I had with this film is how Isaiah’s character is handled. It is done carefully and realistically, but not to my taste. To quote Cameron Diaz’s character Carly Whitten from The Other Woman: “It’s just a matter of time before someone gets bored and unhappy and is saying that it is over – and that is a happy ending.”

In relation to Isaiah’s character, this is more or less what happens, he gets bored and unhappy, and is sadly reduced to the cliché stereotype of the father-like figure who leaves. It is an interesting concept that I did not think could be applied to a romantic story, and as far as coming-of-age stories go, to a young girl’s experience of it all but this is one that needs to be noted.

An honest, timeless tale with such raw intimacy deserves to be rewarded in its portrait of a young woman navigating choices that will ultimately shape her life. Premature is a fresh spin on a familiar story, and a contemporary, intimate portrait of early love.

By Zach Omitowoju

Feature image credit: Blackfilm

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