I came across Premature as part of last year’s London Film Festival where it was featured in the Love strand. A coming of age story about a young woman and her first love, it promised wistful glances and strong emotions.
The film looks and feels like a summer’s evening. Rashaad Ernesto Green captures the twilight feel of the summer before a big change and switches tones between Ayanna and Isaiah’s sensual love scenes and Ayanna and her friend’s youthful chatter. The scenes feel natural and the direction is soft and gentle, never feeling intrusive, but inviting us in to this intense and overpowering summer infatuation.
On her final summer before college, poet Ayanna falls for older music producer Isaiah, and whilst their passion for each other grows, so too do seeds of doubt between the pair and the future of their love. Ayanna is forced into adulthood and faced with complex choices and consequences. The storyline is slow but moving, and captures all those beautiful moments of first love and first heartbreak. Co-written between the director Green and lead actress Zora Howard, they never pass judgement on the characters’ choices or motivations, instead allowing the characters and audience to come to their own conclusions.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Both Howard and Joshua Boone as Isaiah give quiet but entrancing performances. Their chemistry is infectious and bounces off the screen when they are together. Their intimate moments are never too small, and the heartbreaks never too loud. Howard clearly feels a passion for her character Ayanna, and the poetry written for the film is moving and powerful, providing a gentle voiceover throughout the film. This lets us feel Ayanna’s moods, her love, her fears, whilst Howard keeps a quiet pride in her performance to fool those around her. The characters are fully formed and developed, and whilst it is the core pair that carry the film, Howard particularly, the secondary characters that she confides in throughout the film are equally as developed and feel they could all have their own stories.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score used within the film is soothing, but also romantic and sensual. By pairing the music and score with Ayanna’s poetry, every scene feels personal and delicate. The love of music is key to Isaiah’s character, and each piece is carefully chosen to show another facet of his character.
There are little visual effects in the film, but it is visually warm and calming. By letting the natural beauty of New York shine through, the film has a never-ending summer feel; one that makes the audience want to be young and in love once again.
Premature could be slow at times, and the content might not please everyone, but the strong performances from the first time lovers combined with beautiful poetry and enchanting visuals are hard to deny. Howard and Green’s writing collaboration is powerful, and placing them on either side of the screen allows them to control each frame and each movement. The film feels as delicate as this fragile love we see on screen.