Don Cheadle's star is probably burning a little bit brighter now since the blockbuster hit of this summer's Iron Man had announced that he will take over Terrence Howard's role as Jim Rhodes given the latter being unable to agree on contractual terms with the studios. While Cheadle might be more familiar to audiences here as one of Ocean's 11 to 13, it was in Hotel Rwanda that made me sit up and take notice, playing a man caught in a genocide, having to protect his family, his friends, and his job all at once.
In Talk To Me, Cheadle disappears into the role of real life Washington DC's finest on the radio, Petey Greene, who tells it like it is, without mincing his words, and in doing so, garners a huge following in the city, with this film directed by Kasi Lemmons spanning the 60s to the 80s. Cheadle gives a solid performance as the DJ, an ex-convict whose common man background strikes a chord with his listeners, and this film chronicles his rise to stardom and eventual fade out from the limelight.
Sharing the limelight is Chiwetel Ejiofor as partner Dewey Hughes (quite hard to imagine that Ejiofor was once Lola in Kinky Boots), credited for giving Petey his big break into radio outside of the prison walls because of his needing a fresh voice and perspective to be at the helm of his radio station's morning show, which is suffering from plummeting listenership. And as they say, the rest is history. The bulk of the film centers on the friendship between these two personalities, with Hughes at the mid point, in seeing the potential to be milked from Greene to ascend far beyond the airwaves, convincing Greene to allow him to manage his career, therefore bringing about new opportunities from stage to screen.
Set against the tumultuous backdrop of that era's US history, the primary theme in the movie though, was on something that you'd probably be able to identify with yourself. It is important to do things that you enjoy doing, rather than be forced to do something that you're unwilling, or unhappy about, despite reaping the rewards gained, be it for fame or money. As the movie goes along and as Greene's fame gets more widespread, there is something in his eye and response that he's not all too comfortable in being put under the spotlight all the time, and Cheadle brings out this subtleness with great excellence. I think some of us from time to time might have experienced how while you're good at something and are comfortable to remain in your own turf, that others who recognize your talent, might want to push you out of your comfort zone. If you think of it positively, it's opportunity to be gained, especially when you swim. If you sink however, then your confidence might be taken a hit, and it depends on your strength in character to be able to bounce back from defeat.
Fans of soul music will have plenty to cheer as the soundtrack is nothing short of amazing given that it's set in a radio station for the most part. Wonderful performances all round and having a compelling story to tell, Talk To Me certainly is one of the gems this year that shouldn't be missed.