Talk to Me

At its heart, Talk to Me is a love story between two men. There's nothing romantic going on between the two lead characters D.J. Petey Green (played by Don Cheadle) and Dewey Hughes (played amazingly well by Chiwetel Ejiofor), but it is a love story nonetheless. Petey is a ex-con whose only ambition is to be on the radio. It's 1966, and Washington, D.C. is in the throes of the Civil Rights movement. Petey manages to harangue Dewey into a job at the radio station where he works. Ejiofor's Dewey is the guy who escaped from the projects who wants to be nothing like Petey, who has spent half his life drunk on drugs and in jail, yet through their relationship, Petey helps Dewey regain his soul. Petey becomes a D.C. star because he is in the right place at the right time and because he speaks honestly and openly about his life as a black man in a white world. Dewey has big dreams for Petey beyond the radio and their relationship unravels as he pushes him to heights he can't handle.

Expertly directed by Kasi Lemmons, who previously directed Eve's Bayou and Caveman's Valentine, she is able to marshal strong performances from all her actors. In the strongest sequence, the film depicts the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered, and how D.C. erupted in flames. Petey's pain on the air that day is so palpable as her tries to quiet the city from its rage, shock and sadness. Taraji P. Henson, one of the most exciting young African American actresses, does the best she can as Petey's girlfriend Vernell. She's very present in the beginning and then disappears for a chunk. The costumes and the hair are fantastic, especially Henson's multiple Afros and Cheadle's never-ending sideburns.

But at its heart Talk to Me tells the story of two different men, more alike than they imagined, and how they grew to respect and love one another. Not your typical buddy picture, which is why it gets my vote.