The summer romance in “Premature” has a natural feeling improved by the lyrical quality of the cinematography (Laura Valladao) and city rhythms captured in the script (by lead Zora Howard and director Rashaad Ernesto Green.
This is Harlem as a starting point, a place where a young 17-year-old poet, Aryanna (Howard), is spending her last few months with her best friends. Her friends are loud and boisterous–in a way not particularly conducive to a tender romance. When Aryanna meets with music producer Isaiah (Joshua Boone), she pulls away from her friends, coming back when she’s ready. They meet each other’s friends and acquaintances. Together, the poetic Aryana and the musically-inclined Isaiah have future possibilities.
As the two are wondering if this could be something more, Aryanna finds herself pregnant and, without telling Isaiah, she suggests not leaving for college. He pulls back and she leans on her friends and then her mother. While the ending is not clear, one of the producers during a Q&A was adamant. Aryanna will go to college.
There are moments that clearly show this is a film on a shoestring budget, from the camera work to the guerrilla filmmaking choices and even the lack of extremely complimentary makeup during the nude scenes. Yet, these problems also bring a raw sense or truth. The script makes clear that the lust between these two lovers isn’t one-sided. At one point, Isaiah stops and provides music to give their love-making less urgent and more sensuous.
There is nothing overtly political about this love story. We are dropped inside a Harlem culture that is fertile, fun and part of a future that I want to see. The film seems to suggest that sometimes we meet the right people at the wrong times, forcing us to decide which road we might take–go right or go left. There may be a next chapter for tomorrow; revisiting them in four or five years might be intriguing. “Premature” makes a thoughtful Valentine’s Day film or one about possibilities or of love lost. I hope Green and Howard make many more movies, together and apart.