by James Hill
March 14, 2017
Twenty years ago today, a small revolution in Black film happened.
The gangsta genre headlined by “Boyz n the Hood” and “Menace II Society” was waning but its effects were still overpowering — from film to TV to hip hop.
And then in 1997, an unknown director (Theodore Witcher) released a small film into Black America’s bloodstream and we’ve never, thankfully, fully recovered.
“love jones” was a jazzy, quiet meditation on Black love in Chicago’s poetry scene. There weren’t any guns, no crying mothers or 40 ounces — instead we got seven, smart, funny people falling in and out of love against the soundtrack of Neo Soul’s birth moment (pre-“Miseducation” Lauryn Hill anyone?).
But the heart of the film was the romance between writer Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) and photographer Nina Mosley (Nia Long). Sure, you could argue that Spike Lee’s music-laden love story “Mo’ Better Blues” did it first, but not with “jones'” lasting style and legacy. Without “love jones,” you probably wouldn’t even know Sanaa Lathan or Taye Digg’s names.
Don’t believe us? Take a look at the movies that came after, and especially BECAUSE of, “love jones.”
TELL US: What’s your favorite Black romantic comedy?