Fifteen years ago today I was a young, couldn’t-tell-me-anything, about to be college graduate who was anxiously waiting to leave the university life behind and move on to put my mark on the world.
The year 1997 held so much promise for my life. I was proud of myself for making it through school in four years (I knew many who were on the five, six and even seven-year plan).
That year, on March 14, the movie I feel in love with and have watched at least 100 times was released. Is it any surprise it also happens to be my all-time favorite film?
Love Jones’ storyline has a real basic premise: love, friendships and relationships. Man meets woman at a time when woman is not ready to involve herself with any man. Undeterred, man continues to pursue woman and the tale unfolds from there.
I remember driving 60 miles roundtrip – twice – to see this movie (this was the closest theatre to the college I attended that was showing the film). The first time, I went with the girls, and the second time with my then boyfriend, his roommate and girlfriend.
I tell you, watching a movie like this with distinctly different groups of people is quite interesting. Seeing it with my boyfriend put our relationship in a different light and had me looking at him sideways more than a few times.
But I digress.
This movie has come to mean different things to me over the last 15 years. Back when I was in college, (and even now) I definitely related to the main character, Nina Mosley (played by Nia Long), the photographer whose heart is on the mend after a failed romance.
She’s closed herself off to love, until a chance meeting at The Sanctuary (a popular local spot in Chicago where poetry and music blend in a way not seen before on film).
Darius Lovehall (played by the delicious and sexy Larenz Tate), is the poet/writer who could possibly be the man that breaks down Nina’s barriers, and allows her to open up to the possibilities of it all.
Of course it won’t be easy, and the ride that ensues is definitely a twisting, winding rollercoaster – it has its high, highs and low, lows.
For me, watching the tale and all its subplots is so real because I’ve lived through some of the scenarios. And if I haven’t, I know someone who has.
This being a music blog and all, I must mention the score in Love Jones. It is the one movie soundtrack I still listen to so many years later (of course it’s playing in the background as I write this).
I also happen to consider it the ultimate movie soundtrack. Outside of Purple Rain, I really haven’t heard a soundtrack that pairs so well with a movie from beginning to end.
Opening and concluding with poetry from the film (by Darius and Nina respectively), the music in Love Jones ties the various themes in the movie together rather well.
There’s Dionne Farris singing about being Hopeless – “Hello morning/now when does the fun begin/goodbye morning/sorry it had to end/well see I cried just a little to long/now it’s time for me to be strong/hello morning/I sure missed you last night/goodbye morning/you just won’t do me right/I stayed just a little too long/now it’s time for me to move on/they say I’m hopeless/as a penny with a hole in it.”
You have Maxwell crooning ever so gently these lyrics: “Sumthin’/even though you never wanna show affection/I won’t go, I’ll always wanna show attention/so if it’s cool we can do a little, sumthin’/let me groove with you babe/and break you off a little sumthin’/you’re my, my chocolate so sweet/and you make me feel so good/when you’re lovin’/so if it’s cool/I wanna rock with you/rock you until your blue, sumthin’/let me break you off baby/break you off, sumthin’ ” on Sumthin’ Sumthin’: Mellosmoothie (Cut).
Put this song on when you want to set a certain mood and I can almost guarantee you will have a story to tell in the a.m.!
But the song I love best is sung by Kenny Lattimore. Can’t Get Enough literally is a great summation of Larenz Tate’s character Darius – “I was anticipating/changes in your personality/when things weren’t what they seemed/my pride got the best of me/she was my way of getting by/and I keep asking myself why/and will I lose you over a meaningless lie.”
Every time I listen to this soundtrack, I can’t help but see flashes of scenes from the movie. For instance, Jelly, Jelly by The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, plays after the couple has a “real” date, and Nina wants the night to end differently than what Darius has in mind.
What happens next while the song is playing is so appropriate – Nina laying in bed, resisting the urge to go back downstairs while Darius resists the urge to, well you just have to see the scene for yourself.
If you have yet to experience Love Jones or heard the soundtrack, I won’t hold it against you. But, if after reading this you still aren’t moved to rent the movie or at least listen to the tracks on iTunes, well, you aren’t in your right mind.
I’m just saying.
So, happy 15th anniversary Love Jones (and Love Jones Soundtrack, which was released on March 11, 1997). The message in the movie and music are still pertinent today – despite the obstacles, peaks and valleys one sometimes faces when it comes to love, in the end, it’s all worth it if you’ve got a Love Jones.