Just let me say at the top that this is one of the best films I’ve seen at TIFF this year, and one that gets better the more I think about it. Medicine for Melancholy was shot guerrilla-style in San Fransisco on a tiny budget and without shooting permits. In more ways than one, it is a labour of love.
Micah and Jo are twenty-something SF’ers who wake up after the night before and experience some very awkward post one night stand moments. Jo is distant and sort of bitchy, but Micah seems like a nice enough guy. Jo gives Micah the old brush off, but is forced to see him again when he returns the wallet she left in the cab that they shared. Micah is pure charm, and eventually he convinces Jo to hang out with him.
And, in Before Sunrise fashion, they explore the city, talk, listen, dance to indie music (fans of the scene will dig the soundtrack, although it’s not really my bag) and get to know each other. These two seem so right for one another – but they’re both carrying heavy baggage.
SF is a character unto itself. The movie is almost entirely desaturated of colour, and the city looks stark and beautiful. Writer-director Barry Jenkins also explores issues such as gentrification, class and race that are relevant to present-day SF.
Oh, and did I mention that the director and his leads are African-American? Cause it doesn’t matter in the least – except in the sense that it does matters that we are arriving at a time in cinema where relationships between Black characters are fully explored and normalized.