Director: Kasi Lemmons
Writers: Michael Genet, Rick Famuyiwa
Cinematographer: Stéphane Fontaine
Starring: Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Taraji P. Henson, Martin Sheen, Cedric the Entertainer
Studio/Running Time: Focus Features, 118 min.
“That’s right, check it out
This one goes out to my dime piece
This one goes out to my homies
This one goes out to my shorties
This one goes out to all the ladies
Mr. Deejay, oh, play something
Something for my baby
Send a shout out to my baby.”
-Ruff Endz “Are You Messing Around”
Often times when a biographical film claims to be “inspired by true events,” the subject’s life story is greatly exaggerated. But in Talk To Me, the tale of Washington, D.C. deejay Petey Greene (Don Cheadle) has actually been simplified, leaving out many of his greatest accomplishments. Luckily, this does nothing to detract from a hilarious and poignant film.
While serving time for armed robbery, Greene hones his skills spinning records for his fellow inmates. After his release he persuades WOL radio program director Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor) to put him on the air in spite of some huge reservations by station manager E. G. Sonderling (Martin Sheen). With the racially-charged sixties as his sounding board, Greene’s street-wise style endears himself to his black, urban listeners as he exhorts them to “tell it like it is.” When Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated, Greene’s voice helps to calm the city during some of the capitol’s grimmest hours. The story is as much Hughes’ as it is Greene’s with director Kasi Lemmons focusing on the relationship between the two men whose rising careers become dependent on one another.
Just as she did in Hustle and Flow, Taraji P. Henson steals many a scene and is wonderful as Greene’s flamboyant girlfriend. And Ejiofor is a true, rising star. But after Cheadle’s memorable performances in both Crash and Hotel Rwanda, it should be unsurprising that the actor once again finds a way, this time through humor and inspiration, to electrify the screen in Talk To Me.