I remember first seeing this movie a couple years back because I was just becoming a fan of Kerry Washington. I do firmly believe she’s a talented woman, but for some reason or another she hasn’t presented herself in many interesting roles throughout her career. But I still do, and will in all likely hood always, adore her in Our Song.
Our Song is a slice of life story about three girls enjoying, experiences, and dreading their summer vacation in Brooklyn. The joys, experiences, and dreading come in the form of being able to be with your friends all day and night long without having to go to school, going to parties, neighborhood violence, and teenage sex and pregnancy. To get one problem I had with the film out of the way first, is that if you’ve seen the hundreds of films set in NY since essentially the inception of film itself, than you’re not going to be excited to really see anything new because the locations chosen to shoot in aren’t that exciting. Not to mention the fact that there wasn’t any traditional New York soundtrack involved to invoke the feeling of New York.
Those two minor quibbles aside, I love love love this movie. It is shot in a “documentary” style (not this means actually nothing because documentaries are shot in a variety of ways, but you get what I mean by it). The film isn’t acted as much as it feels like random conversations from the street. Which isn’t a bad thing because as opposed to the usually Hollywood drama when making coming of age movies, there is nothing melodramatic and all the events are played as they should without over-the-top hysterics, be it death or pregnancy. I’m looking at you Thirteen.
Aside from a plot run down or me writing a paragraph or two praising the naturalistic acting, what stands out most to me is the dichotomy of the black and Spanish girl’s friendship and how they overlap with the “blatina” (Kerry Washington’s character) relationship with them. Being that Kerry Washington isn’t really of mixed heritage, or at least in a predominant sense that I know of (unlike say Rosario Dawson or Zoe Saldana) the only way to assert or validate in my case her hispanic heritage is to not only be fluent in Spanisho in a high school Spanish III sort of way, but she needs to make some mention of it. Shouts out to myself and all the other black latinos that don’t quite like latino!
This stands in contrast to her, presumably, Puerto Rican friend whom I would be hard pressed to say she even knew what hola meant. On the opposite side of the spectrum there lies her black friend who occupies a sort of awkward relationship with the Puerto Rican friend, general feeling of uneasiness and “friend by proxy” is usual felt when the two are forced to be with each other alone. This is fully apparent near the closing of the film where the black friend is no longer with Kerry Washington’s character nor the Puerto Rican and now exclusive hangs with her black friends. This isn’t particularly surprising considering the fact that Kerry Washington usually hangs with her Spanish friend more and live with her hispanic mother.
I feel the need to end it there even though I spent the majority of the time writing about the “racial” differences between the three. I may edit in the future to add more plot details and go into how it actually is about girl’s growing up, but the racial dynamics have always struck me as the most interesting part, and had the least discussion, so I do feel perfectly fine with leaving it as is.