I once had a conversation with a friend about the reason I love movies. I told her was how a movie can transport you to another place, no matter where or even who you are. Her response was disbelief and from that I could tell this was an experience we had not shared. And in retrospect I honestly believe movies don’t do that for everyone. For me though it is not uncommon for a scene or an image to reach into my soul, like the opening scene in Boyz N the Hood, a visual that is forever burned into my mind. That is the power of cinema and tonight I saw something that moved me in a way only a great movie could.
Tunde Johnson (Steven Silver) is a kid who has a lot of things going for him. He has two parents who are very much in his life being well-off he pretty much has everything he could want, but things are not all perfect. You see Tunde is gay and since he is also black, in his words he is two degrees less human in most people’s eyes. Fortunately, Tunde is not worried about most people, just his parents, and tonight is the night he is coming to come out to them. To his surprise, they are more than accepting and with that off his chest, Tunde heads out to meet the man he is dating. Soren (Spencer Neville), who is also hiding who he really is and also plans to come out. On the way to a party, Tunde is pulled over by the police and is shot by them, but Tunde doesn’t die, instead wakes up in his bed, like he just had a bad dream. It was not a dream however as Tunde is stuck in a loop of the day he dies, in which he has to relive both the toughest and best day of his life over and over again.
It didn’t take long for me to move up in my seat and get to the point where I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Movies like The Obituary of Tunde Johnson have been done before, but not like this. The ‘time-loop’ concept usually involves humor, and in some cases horror, but here they are very unique. The moments that are relived are not exactly the same as you are taken to different points in the day. Here, time is the great equalizer. Writer Stanley Kalu delivers with his first feature and tells a story that gives you all the feels and leaves you in awe when it ends. This movie is meant to make you feel something and what you believe is up to you. There is a scene in this movie that flat out destroyed me and while not the only scene that effected me emotionally it left a profound mark. Made couple of years ago, this scene is incredibly prescient more so now that ever, and may be extremely hard to watch. This movie above all just gets it right and sometimes not what it says but by what it leaves out. Movies like this don’t come around often and I know this will touch any who sees it. Time waits for no one and has its own rules, but can also heal all wounds? This is a question Tunde Johnson might have an answer for.