A Visually Gorgeous Ode To Radical Love In Occasions Of Disaster [SXSW 2023]

A Visually Stunning Ode To Radical Love In Times Of Crisis [SXSW 2023]

What makes “The Young Wife” work is its script. Poe has an uncanny talent for making even the most unrealistic of situations feel completely natural, embracing the inherent weirdness of our current world. She manages to be completely in tune with how a stressed and terminally-online generation navigates the world around them without being hokey. It is extremely rare to manage that, but the film would not be as successful in delivering its themes if its writing was just slightly more obvious.

It’s even better that this script is delivered by actors on the same wavelength, especially a career-best Clemons. It’s hard to imagine Celestina, a complicated and multi-faceted character, being portrayed by anyone other than her – she brings vulnerability, stubbornness, anger, and most importantly, joy to the role in a way that feels uniquely her doing. Judith Light also shines as Celestina’s soon-to-be grandmother-in-law, arguably the only person in the film that understands how debilitating her current predicament is.

While Poe’s writing helps elevate “The Young Wife” from being just another piece of optimistic cinema, it’s her distinct visual style that makes it a uniquely wonderful film in general. The cinematography from Jomo Fray, who also worked with Poe on “Selah and the Spades,” utilizes space and distance to tremendous effect. Editor Kate Abernathy’s frantic pacing also brings to life Celestina’s increasing anxieties while also highlighting the moments of solace she manages to find throughout the film.

“The Young Wife” is a movie that could not have been made by anyone other than Tayarisha Poe. Thanks to her near-perfect direction and writing, everything about its reminder to embrace love, both inner and outer, signals a deserved shift into auteurism for the director. Here’s to hoping the rest of the world can catch up.

/Film rating: 9 out of 10

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