‘Things Never Said’ is a poetic memento

A potently rich story about love, adultery, abuse and heartache, it marks the directional debut of longtime TV writer Charles Murray.

Beautifully shot, brilliantly written and featuring a terrific lead performance from Shanola Hampton, this is a thought provoking, emotionally engaging drama.

The film’s story-line is straightforward, and its premise is fairly simple: Kalindra Stepney, (Hampton) is an aspiring poetess who dreams of performing at New York’s most acclaimed spoken word stage — the Nuyorican Poets Café. Stuck in a dead end job and saddled with a bitter, abusive and unambitious husband, her daily poetry sessions provide an outlet for her frustrations.

When she meets and becomes romantically involved with Curtis (Omari Hardwick), a fellow problematic poet, her passion is released and she finds herself discovering her voice, but it comes at a price.

A potently rich story about love, adultery, abuse and heartache, “Things Never Said” is heartbreakingly beautiful and achingly real.

Hampton and Hardwick sizzle with romantic chemistry, both deliver solid solo outings and the chemistry between them in their scenes together is almost tangible.  Hardwick with a likable humanity and romantic charm coupled with his good looks, make him ideally suited for the role.

It is the script where this movie really shines, as you might expect when Charles Murray is the writer. A longtime television writer, Murray has worked on numerous shows that include “Sons of Anarchy,” “Castle,” and “Criminal Minds” where he’s cultivated a rich, methodical storytelling sensibility and fills ”Things Never Said,” his directional debut, with memorable lines that range from wise to witty.

His focus is always on the bond that links its two central characters and he approaches the story with great sensitivity, keeps his cast together with the skill of a veteran, finding opportunities to let almost every actor shine. If there is any flaw here, it might be that with so many fine actors, there aren’t always enough great lines to go around.

Also starring Tamala Jones, as Kalindra’s best friend, Dorian Missick and Michael Beach, the story unfolds through Kalindra’s perspective and the mood of the film is set by the tumultuous relationship between her and husband Ronnie (Elimu Nelson), who at first appears to be the loving and supporting husband. As Murray gradually peels off the layers, his numerous flaws are revealed. An injury destroyed his dreams of becoming a successful athlete and bitterness has festered over the years turning him into an abusive monster.

“Everybody isn’t shooting for the stars like you!  A dream is something you wake up from!” He angrily tells Kalindra in one dramatic scene.

We know where the story is heading and we know that things will eventually be said, but it’s the journey getting there that’s most enjoyable.

Murray skillfully handles the dramatic moments with great direction coupled with a poetic score.

“Things Never Said” is emotionally rich. Its lyrical delicateness marks it as something special, different and thought-provoking.

The film itself is about self-discovery and at its best, it offers a complex combination of anger, yearning and compassion from a woman struggling to communicate herself as words fail her.

It’s a gentle tale with a tender ache at its center, as well as a great performance from Shanola Hampton that lingers long in the memory.

Pictured above: Shanola Hampton as Kalindra Stepney (pictured right)  Shanola Hampton and Elimu Nelson.

“Things Never Said”  releases in theaters September 6

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