Review by Sean Boelman
Winner of the “Someone to Watch” Indie Spirit Award, Rashaad Ernesto Green’s second feature Premature is a summer romance film from a unique and fresh perspective. However, despite good intentions and frequently gorgeous visuals, the movie never quite comes together in the way that Green seems to have hoped.
The film follows a teenage girl in the summer before she leaves for college as she meets a handsome and mysterious stranger, sending her on a journey of self-discovery. Green’s take on the summer romance is far from conventional, and while this is often a good thing, the idiosyncrasies of the movie can also prevent the story from connecting as intended.
Part of the issue with the film is that it feels somewhat repetitive. There are short bursts of conflict interspersed throughout Green’s portrait of this relationship, and while that is just enough to keep the viewer invested in the story as a whole, it isn’t enough to keep those other portions of the movie from feeling like they drag significantly.
The film does a good job of making the protagonist feel compelling, but the rest of the characters in the movie are disappointingly underdeveloped. Even the film’s love interest feels shallow. Green goes a bit too far in making the love interest mysterious, instead making him feel cold and distant, and as a result, making the relationship feel less compelling.
Eventually the movie does pack a pretty strong punch, especially towards the end, but it takes quite a while to get to that point. Significant events in the first two acts of the film don’t have the urgency that is necessary for a movie like this to be fully effective. There are some brilliant and moving moments, but these glimmers of greatness only make the rest of the film even more of a let-down.
That said, Green did an absolutely phenomenal job behind the camera. Lead actress Zora Howard (who co-wrote the movie) is wonderful. Her performance was packed with emotion, and she obviously cares very deeply about this story. The chemistry she has with Joshua Boone is also very strong and works well to bring this relationship to life.
Additionally, the film is quite visually impressive. Green undeniably has a great eye, making the look and style of the movie inarguably its strong suit. The cinematography by Laura Valladao is beautiful, capturing the emotion and subtlety of the actors quite well. The soundtrack of the film is very interesting as well, including the score by Patrick Cannell and Stefan Swanson.
It is understandable why Rashaad Ernesto Green won a “Someone to Watch” award for his movie Premature, as his abundance of talent is evident, but the script of the film is ultimately what is holding it back. Still, Green has a phenomenal voice, and his movie deserves to be seen.
Premature hits theaters and VOD on February 21.