A Mark Harris piece, “My First Love”
(This is a review of an Independent Film that premiered on BET that was Directed by Mark Harris. A very well-known film producer in Chicago, IL.)
In Chicago, the circles of entrepreneurs and upwardly progressives across every area of business, art, music and film amongst African Americans tend to be very small and inclusive. This is not to say that there isn’t any star power in Chicago, but because Chicago isn’t necessarily “Hollywood” in a sense, it takes a lot more to get noticed here.
With the emergence of Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, and many big budget films like the Transformers franchise being filmed here, the windy city is becoming a place where film is claiming it’s stake–and for good reason.
Enter Mark Harris, Director and Producer of the film “My First Love”
“My First Love” is a film about a couple that struggles with marital problems because of the widespread use and attention given to social media and smart phones. Mark brought together Pooch Hall and Gabrielle Dennis, more widely known for their roles in BET’s “The Game”, for a cinematic journey with a couple that goes through the motions of dealing with the issue as a result of our obsession with technology, and the pursuit of success.
I attended a small but intimate viewing for the film at M Vie Chicago restaurant in West Town. A very nice restaurant with a very casual-chic atmosphere and an excellent menu of food items.
I was able to dig into the movie over a great dinner and drinks with friends on the one topic that simultaneously perplexes us, but also sits at the core of our being and is the sole motivation for everything we do…
If you’ve ever been married, in a relationship, in love, or any combination of the above you will definitely be able to relate to this movie. Excellently shot and produced by Chicago native Mark Harris who grew up in the Englewood area of town, he brings a much needed and refreshing breath of air to film that empowers and positively portrays the struggles of many African Americans when it comes to love and our families.
The story starts off with Pooch Hall character (Omar), who is a very successful entrepreneur and someone that stays attached to his phone. Let me get this out of the way now…. I can identify with this character, and yes, I am guilty! My phone has gotten me in a LOT of trouble over the years, but I digress.
So back to the film…
Omar’s wife (Carmen) who is played by Gabrielle Dennis is of course, beautiful and highly intelligent–a man’s ideal mate. Carmen has benefitted from Omar’s success in many ways materially, but their marriage has suffered emotionally and spiritually as a result of his drive and success. Because Omar is constantly attached to his phone and always on social media, along with being a very busy entrepreneur, the rift between him and his wife has slowly caught up to him without his knowing.
In the beginning of the movie she continuously gives him clues as to how she feels–although she never has a clear and meaningful conversation with him–she does express her discontent for him being distant in the marriage. They also haven’t been intimate in a number of months, which further compounds the issue.
Carmen affectionately rewards Omar by pre-planning a divorce and separation with no warning, and no heads up. She approaches him one day, gives him divorce papers, and expresses that she’s closing on a house and moving out in several days. This all takes Omar by surprise and of course, he fights back by telling her he won’t sign the papers.
The movie then progresses through several scenes of what I call a “tit for tat” scenario where two people fight and struggle for control while attempting to protect their own interests.
The ending was amazing and the movie overall was even more amazing. I was touched in so many ways and I definitely recommend you go and watch the movie when it airs again, but here is where I have pause about the issue of how women deal with these kinds of issues…
Apparently from what I was told by several ladies last night at the viewing, Carmen’s entire motivation for filing for divorce without telling Omar was to get his attention.
Get his attention?? Hmmmm…… But is that truly a good way to get someone’s attention??
Let’s go on.
They further go on to tell me that Carmen probably didn’t want to divorce him, but she probably felt that there was no other way to get his attention. After all, she’s been telling him for quite sometime that she wasn’t feeling the love and attention that she deserved and he hasn’t done anything about it.
Fair enough, but does going through the motions of ending and sabotaging your marriage in the fashion that Gabrielle Dennis character did in the movie really help you ultimately get what you truly want?
The argument from some people goes, “Well, how else does a woman get a man’s attention?”
I understand a woman’s plight to get what she want’s from her man, well in this case, her husband, but I think the approach is very indicative of what happens in a lot of marriages. Let’s keep in mind the dynamics of this particular situation, the couple were married and had been each other’s first loves. They had a history. So of course, when we think about a relationship or marriage that has this kind of history we can see why the ending went the way it did.
Now, I won’t tell you about the ending! You’ll have to go watch it for yourself.
But suffice it to say, most couples don’t stick it out and women play a very dangerous game when it comes to the things they do to get their men to fight and prove their love for them. I think Carmen got lucky in this movie–well of course, Mark Harris wrote it that way–but in real life it honestly takes two people to make anything work. The game that Carmen played almost cost her the love of her life as well as her marriage.
All in all, an amazing story on black love and well worth watching!
This film will air again on BET on March 20, 2015 at 8am!
Mark Harris is a Chicago born film producer and director that has a number of titles to his credit that aim to tell empowering and positive stories about experiences that matter most to his audience. Mark is a self-taught filmmaker. His movies have been release to major distributors and he has also self-distributed many of his films and sold hundred of thousands copies in the United States and overseas. Mark was born and raised in the Englewood community of Chicago. The same community Bernie Mac, Jennifer Hudson, Lorraine Hansberry, Janet Hubert and Derek Rose originated from. Mark is also the Founder of 1555Filmworks a film production company that produces feature films and he is also the Founder of the Englewood International Film Festival. Englewood, a neighborhood in Chicago, is known as one of the most dangerous places to live in the United States. The crime rate, although reported most frequently, can not overshadow the hope for the future of this Chicago neighborhood. The goal of The Englewood International Film Festival is to change the imaging and condition of the people in Englewood. You can connect with Mark on his Facebook page.