Things Never Said
Shanola Hampton delivers a bravura performance as Kalindra Stepney, an aspiring poetess who works as a waitress in Los Angeles and finds herself stuck in a loveless
marriage with her husband, Ronnie (Elimu Nelson). She's at a turning point in her life because she's unhappy, confused and frustrated, and wants to do something to ameliorate her life, but
Ronnie holds her back from fulfilling her dreams to become a poetess and to discover herself. He doesn't support her emotionally and they simply don't connect anymore. At an open mic night
where she reads her poetry to a captive audience, she meets Curtis (Omari Hardwick), a young man who shares her passion for poetry and treats her with respect. Unlike her husband, Curtis
serves as a great motivator for Kalindra, but he also serves as a threat to Ronnie when she starts having an affair with him.
Writer/director Charles Murray has woven a very powerful
drama brimming with poignancy, charisma, tension and beautiful words of wisdom. It's quite refreshing to find an American film with not only depth, but also a complex role for its lead
actress that doesn't objectify women. Kalindra comes across as an emotionally wounded human being who has plenty of intelligence, creativity and even happiness buried deep inside her, and it
takes a catalyst like Curtis to bring it out of her and inspire her to feel free enough to do some much-needed soul-searching. In a way, Kalindra's poetry becomes a form of therapy and catharsis for her both on an emotional and intellectual level. Her emotional journey and character arc feels complete, organic and, most importantly, believable thanks to Murray's tender, wise and genuinely heartfelt screenplay. Never does the film veer into melodramatic or pretentious territory; it all feels real and authentic from start to finish. It also has one of the most realistic endings in recent memory because it remains true to the character of Kalindra and treats her with respect without sugar-coating any solutions to her complex issues.
The primary heart and soul of the film is Shanola Hampton's performance which radiates with warmth, charisma, truth and rawness. It's a star-making performance that, if there's any justice inthe world, could and should lead to acting awards and, hopefully, more complex roles in the future. You'll find yourself not only rooting for Kalindra, but also caring about her as a human being. You'll be sad when she's sad, happy when she's happy, and inspired when she's inspired. That in itself is a testament to the power of a truly great film. Things Never Said is the kind of film that Hollywood rarely makes anymore: smart, deep, honest, genuinely poignant and complex. In an industry filled with shallow, pointless, mindless films, it's a breath of fresh air. It will nourish your heart, mind and soul.