A traditionally handsome biopic bursting with 1960s period detail and firecracker performances, Talk To Me tackles one of the most volatile periods in American history, but tragically finds nothing interesting to say about it. The film's subject is "Petey" Green (Don Cheadle), an ex-convict turned DJ and one of the earliest talk radio shock-jocks. Broadcasting at the height of the civil rights movement, Petey was compelled to "keep it real" while his colleagues were soothing their audience with saccharine clichés.
Talk To Me's single, almost insurmountable problem is its failure to get to grips with Petey's massive popularity. We are told again and again that he spoke for the masses and delivered the unvarnished truth, but we hardly ever get to hear him doing it - the grand rants reduced to the occasional rude soundbite. Instead, the film becomes a character study and a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of fame, just like Walk The Line and Ray and any number of studio-burnished biopics.
"A MISSED OPPORTUNITY"
Talk To Me is the kind of movie where people lose perspective at exactly the same rate as they gain facial hair. Petey stumbles from one R&B montage sequence to the next, finding fame, drinking too much, sleeping around, rediscovering himself and so on, while all around him history rages, largely ignored. This is a real shame, because the performances, particularly from Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor as his beleaguered manager, are magnetically brilliant, and the film is both extremely funny and adept at pushing emotional buttons when required. A missed opportunity, then, but no less watchable for that.
Talk To Me is out in the UK on 23rd Nov 2007.