Where we going?
Maye (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) is a successful artist who has taken a leave from work to care for her ill aunt, Amanda (Beverly Todd). However, soon after putting her life on-hold, her aunt dies and now it’s up to Maye to not just pick up the pieces, but figure out just where the heck she wants to go from here. Does she want to stay in the house and live out the rest of her days like her aunt would have wanted? Or, does she want to explore more and see what there is to life and what she’s been hiding away from for so long.
I am incredibly glad that Ava DuVernay has gone on to making bigger, more expensive, and ambitious projects since I Will Follow. It shows her true growth as a storyteller and reminds us that getting started is perhaps the most important thing ever, than never actually starting and waiting for your moment to come, eventually. And DuVernay, who seemed like she was working with peanuts and cashews to put everything together and film this thing, deserves some amount of respect for not giving up on her vision and somehow working her way through the Hollywood system, as a woman of color.
But also, it should be noted that I Will Follow is an awful start that has, thankfully, been made up for.
And it’s not that I Will Follow is all that terrible of a movie that you could deem it “unwatchable”; at its worst, it’s just dull and boring. It’s like a Lifetime movie, except that’s a lot more downplayed and a little more boring. There’s no real twists, turns, and/or revelations that come to play – it’s mostly just a bunch of people talking, from one room, to the other. And that’s about it.
Normally, this would be right up my alley but for some reason, I Will Follow has such a laggy-pace, it’s hard to ever get fully immersed in this story, or these characters, as dry as they may be. It’s understandable that the movie had an incredibly tiny budget, so of course the movie would take place in one location, but one has to compensate for that with interesting characters, compelling dialogue, and most importantly, some essence of a story, as small as it may be.
DuVernay seems like she has all of the pieces of the puzzle here, but they’re all too small. Aside from our lead protagonist, no one here really feels all that fleshed-out. Even Maye herself feels like a type – a woman of a certain age figuring herself out and not really knowing of where to go next – and it makes it seem like we’re getting the first draft of her, as opposed to the final one, where DuVernay fully thought this character out the whole way through. Same goes for everyone and even if the movie is rather short at 80-minutes, honestly, it could have been 12 minutes and fared a bit better.
But much longer than that, then yeah, the cracks will show. And they sure did. Thankfully, DuVernay seems to be fine now and has moved on to much, much better stuff.
Consensus: Too subtle and small for its own good, I Will Follow shows some signs of promise that DuVernay would eventually capitalize on, but also feels precisely what a directorial debut, unfortunately, looks and sounds like.
4.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Independent Pictures