Medicine for Melancholy (2008)

  • Romance, Drama
  • 1h 28m
  • USA

Adapted from the TIFF 2008 Programme Guide:

Using a bare budget and two talented actors for his feature debut, Barry Jenkins fills a romantic walk through a changing San Francisco with visual innovation, memorable characters, and timely commentary.

Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Jo (Tracey Heggins) wake up in the harsh light of morning after a one-night stand. Micah works hard to convince Jo to join him for breakfast but, while at first it is difficult to tell whether Jo is aloof or just hungover, she soon makes it abundantly clear that she doesn’t want to see Micah again. He tracks her down nonetheless and, despite her initial protestations, she gives in to his invitation for coffee.

The city of San Francisco cradles Micah and Jo, its very character sparking some of their charged exchanges about how love, race, and identity can mold desires. Micah reacts against the gentrification that is irrevocably changing his city, and cannot understand Jo’s apparent lack of interest in the subject. For him, reaching out to Jo is not about meeting a gorgeous woman, but also about connecting within San Francisco’s dwindling African American population.

Jenkins and cinematographer James Laxton have crafted a sophisticated and unique visual statement. Medicine for Melancholy is a rare hybrid of romance and intellect. More importantly, however, it marks the emergence of a distinctive director with important things to say.

Official Selection, 2008 Toronto International Film Festival

This film is offered in standard definition only.


Barry Jenkins