“Really Love” invites you to tumble into its sophisticated milieu, the Washington, D.C. of African American art and artists, aspirational affluence and a romance that crosses classes.
The tony galleries, early career ambitions, beautiful people doing beautiful things set to a silky smooth jazz score all do their best to atone for a script seriously thin on originality or conflict and flat performances that generate a little heat, but no “real” feeling of romance.
Isaiah (Kori Siriboe of “Girls Trip”) is an artistic “young blood,” struggling to get his start and make something of his MICA (Maryland Institute College of Arts) degree and all the promise he left school with.
Stevie (newcomer Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing) is an upper middle class Georgetown law school student, aiming her affluence and education at America’s housing inequities.
They meet at a gallery show. He’s forward, fingering her necklace. She makes a lot of eye contact and allows it.
When it turns out she’s friends with the wife of his best friend, they stumble into each other again. A no-stress, laid-back courtship ensues.
But ambition is sure to get in the way of that. And her parents (Suzzanne Douglas and Blair Underwood) aren’t about to let their plans for their daughter be dampened by waiting for a promising artist to get rich and famous in his own right.
Michael Ealey plays a wonderfully salty mentor to Isaiah, making even simplistic dialogue sing.
“Your ass need to get inspired!”
Our leads kind of glide through this, from well-appointed townhouses gallery openings and Alvin Ailey dance company shows to “Southeast” front stoops, where Isaiah gets the “That ain’t no real job” and “Let me FIND out you like being broke” bromides from his dad.
There’s an elegance about the look and feel of “Really Love” that the screenplay — by first-time feature director Angel Kristi Williams and “Grey’s Anatomy” staff writer Felicia Pride — is always letting down in a variety of the most obvious ways, from the story’s conventional arc to the often-clunky dialogue.
“So how do you know when a painting’s finished?”
“How do you know when you’re making love to someone?”
That’s a come-on that needs a rewrite, and that goes for the movie as well.
Rating: TV-MA, sex, nudity, smoking and some profanity
Cast: Kori Siriboe, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing, Uzo Abuda, Suzzanne Douglas, Michael Ealey and Blair Underwood.
Credits: Directed by Angel Kristi Williams, scripted by Felicia Pride and Angel Kristi Williams. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:35