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film review

Radha Blank as Radha and Oswin Benjamin as D. Cr. Jeong Park in The 40-Year-Old Version, written and directed by Blank.Jeong Park/Netflix

  • The 40-Year-Old Version
  • Written and directed by Radha Blank
  • Starring Radha Blank, Peter Kim and Oswin Benjamin
  • Classification R; 129 mins

Rating:

4 out of 4 stars


It’s clear that Radha Blank’s debut feature is a deeply personal work. No wonder it resonates on so many levels. Whether you’re a woman on the cusp of her forties. Whether you’re a BIPOC artist struggling to pay your rent, stay relevant and make meaningful art. Whether you geek out on Quincy Jones and John Coltrane vinyl.

The fact that Blank has written, directed and played a starring – and truly she’s a star – role? It’s just further testament to her capabilities, and the state of the arts scene that rarely gives creators like her centre stage – unless they tell stories that fit the narrative of the establishment. But that’s just one of the layers to her story.

Blank’s debut feature centres on Radha, a New York playwright grasping at every straw to stage a play while paying the bills.Netflix

The film centres on Radha (Blank), a New York playwright grasping at every straw to stage a play. A workshop production at the local Black theatre won’t pay the bills. Working with the mainstream theatre industry requires her to write poverty porn. Her mother’s recent death also has her reflecting on life. Suddenly inspiration strikes, and Radha remembers her forgotten passion for spitting rhymes and the truth.

A complicated set of characters – a group of teenagers at an after-school class who test her patience, a high-school friend-turned-agent who adds to the drama, and a DJ who recognizes her talent and need to stay true to herself – is added to the mix. Blank is hilarious and candid in this must-watch film. Every moment she breaks the fourth wall with an eye roll is worthy of a freeze frame.

Every moment Blank breaks the fourth wall with an eye roll is worthy of a freeze frame.Jeong Park/Netflix

The 40-Year-Old Version is available to stream on Netflix starting Oct. 9

Special to The Globe and Mail

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