Medicine for Melancholy

Medicine for Melancholy
Photo Credit: Barry Jenkins

Medicine for Melancholy, directed by Barry Jenkins and released in 2009, is about Micah and Joanne, two San Franciscans who spend the day together after their one-night stand. They go to a museum, cuddle at Micah’s house, dance at a club, go shopping for dinner and they even ride a merry-go-round.

This was a very quiet movie; there was not a lot of drama between the characters. Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Joanne (Tracey Heggins) were very subtle characters; they were calm and laid back for the majority of the film, which made them interesting and funny. Their relatability and honesty stood out the most, which made Medicine for Melancholy attracting.

I liked how Micah installed aquariums for a living and rode a bike. However, he was not quite ecstatic about Joanne’s interracial relationship with her Caucasian boyfriend. He said African Americans are frequently “clinging on to one of them,” meaning Caucasians. He also asked her “why the f— she got to date some white dude.” This caught my attention because there are some people who do not support relationships like this in actuality. They prefer each race date within their own culture. This portrayed Micah as a close-minded person, but he only seems afraid of completely losing touch with his culture. After all, as stated in the film, San Francisco is only seven percent African American.

Joanne’s character was the opposite of Micah’s; she was more open and accepting. She was disappointed and upset about what Micah thought about her relationship, but eventually, she forgave him and let him get in the taxi car with her. Her character represented someone who does not look at the outside appearance, but on the inside. Joanne seems to embrace change and look ahead.

The most thought-provoking element of this independent movie was the color; it looked as though the tint was a mix of vignette and sepia. As a viewer, this made me question why it was filmed this way. Why was it not completely in color? What is the significance of this? It really made me think about how the tint of a film could convey certain messages to the audience. This particular tint made me think that it implied nostalgia and hope. Micah could miss how San Francisco used to be while Joanne could welcome what is in front of her.

In all, Medicine for Melancholy gives you a lot to think about. It is not just a movie you can watch for entertainment, but it makes you question the world around you. It is currently streaming on Netflix, so watch it before it is too late.



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