“The 40-Year-Old Version” Review
From being late to work to grieving for loved ones and from fights between best friends to not knowing what to do with your life, “The Forty-Year-Old Version” wraps up quite a few struggles of everyday life into a witty, comedic film.
The film was written and produced by Radha Blank, who also stars in the film as a fictionalized version of herself. “The Forty-Year-Old Version” was her directional debut and won the U.S. Dramatic Competition Directing Award at the Sundance Festival in January 2020.
This film is shot entirely on a 35-millimeter black and white film, which gives it a raw and powerful feeling. Periodically throughout the film, this black and white cinematography is interrupted by short interviews with Blank’s neighbors who comment on some of the events that are happening in her life.
“The Forty-Year-Old Version” follows Blank through the last few months of her 39th year. After winning an award when she was 30 years old, Blank struggles with her playwright career and picks up teaching theater at a local high school in her hometown of Harlem, New York.
One day, Blank spits out a rhyme causing her to take interest in becoming a rapper. Unsure of her future in playwriting yet intrigued by the rapping lifestyle, Blank finds herself caught between the two while simultaneously working on the production of a play she wrote.
It is clear that a lot of thought was put into the set design, as there is a sharp contrast between the poorer Harlem neighborhoods and the elegant theater events that Blank attends. The set design complemented the backgrounds of each character.
The acting and vernacular slang of the students and rappers, for example, gives insight to the reality of living in a poorer area of New York. On the other hand, the producers and actors involved with Blank’s play act in a more sophisticated, mature manner.
It is likely that this contrast in social status was included to highlight the change in Blank’s lifestyle while also remembering her Harlem roots.
This movie also dives into the importance of art and its many different forms. From participating in plays and rapping to teaching theater, Blank illustrates that art is an important form of expression and a good way to make your voice heard.
“The Forty-Year-Old Version” includes an underlying message throughout the film that most viewers would find useful in their daily lives. Blank expresses that it’s okay to not have a set path in life.
It’s okay to explore new things until your find something that is right.
Blank’s character explores a change in career and meets new people, which influences her idea of what she wants to pursue in life. She sheds light on the fact that there is nothing wrong with being 40 years old and having yet to discover what her passion may be.
In retrospect, “The Forty-Year-Old Version” will likely be a popular film on Netflix in the upcoming weeks. The cast, the black and white cinematography, and the realistic ups and downs of life give this film a feel-good vibe.
Grace Muratore is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email at email@example.com.
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Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism