Something New

What a sweet and charming little movie. I guess this one can be classified as a “chick flick,” but I hate that term. Think of it as a warm and fuzzy Jungle Fever in reverse. Actually that was a pretty bad analogy, but you get the picture — this time it’s a black woman stepping outside of her comfort zone by dating a white man.

First time director Sanaa Hamri gives us the story of Kenya, a successful, uptight and disappointedly single accountant played by the always lovely Sanaa Lathan (Out of Time). Like many educated black women, Kenya is seeking a man to compliment her ambitious lifestyle, but finds the pickins’ to be quite slim. Enter Brian, (played by Simon Baker, most recently of Land of the Dead) a handsome landscaper who “takes hard earth and makes things bloom.” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. There aren’t many surprises here, but this one is a winner because it realistically deals with the issues that face an interracial couple without becoming a one-trick pony (like last year’s Guess Who). Lathan is dead-on in her portrayal of a sista who “doesn’t do dogs, spiders, or hiking.” Particularly authentic (in my uninformed opinion) is a scene where Kenya vents about a hard day at work dealing with “the man.” Brian asks for one night without a discussion of race and Kenya tells him you don’t “get a night off from being black.” I thought this was a great scene, because it seems like a real concern that would face a black woman in a relationship with a white man. Kenya has an image of what she considers her “IBM” (ideal black man), but she learns that what you think you want is not always the best thing for you. Sometimes the real gift is not in the package we expected.

Another thing I really liked about the movie is that Kenya is a real sista, she’s not a black Barbie wannabe. Brian is comfortable in his own skin as well, he’s not some white boy trying to “act black” or fulfill a black girl Jezebel fantasy. These are just two people who have made a connection in a world where true love can be rare. Although Brian is a prize (he paints her toenails for cryin’ out loud!), director Hamri does not tout the virtues of white men at the expense of black men. There is no bashing of black men, which I’m sure we can all appreciate. If you’re looking for a sweet and refreshing take on the old “boy meets girl” premise, check this one out. Check it out anyway because we need to support a departure from the same old black date flicks that recycle some combination of Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnutt and Taye Diggs. A white dude providing the diversity and spice, who woulda thunk it??

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