Love Jones: a Videotape Anaylsis Paper
Film and Music
Submitted By msknwitall
A Videotape Analysis Paper
New Line Cinema’s romantic comedy love jones by Theodore Witcher examines the battle of the sexes by asking (1) whether the third time is, indeed, a charm and (2) can your soulmate of the opposite sex be found, and if so, can the faith, and love between you move mountains?
Struggling photographer Nina Mosley (Nia Long) and struggling writer Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) have a lot in common, but they aren’t exactly prime candidates for a serious affair. The consummate ladies man, Darius’ silky smooth presentation promises more sell than substance. And Nina’s recently jilted heart isn’t looking for anymore of love’s kind of trouble.
love jones begins with Nina and her good girlfriend Josie Nichols (Lisa Nicole Carson) packing up what’s left of Nina’s disappointing relationship. Fearful that the scars left from this failed romance may be too deep for her to heal, Josie takes her to a night-time poetry-slam at the Sanctuary, where she encounters Darius for the first time. The Sanctuary is the local haven where poetry is the prime draw, and a favorite night spot for Darius and his friends Savon Garrison (Isaiah Washington), Eddie Coles (Leonard Roberts), Sheila Downes (Bernadette Clark, and Hollywood (Bill Bellamy). “The romance dies between couples,” we overhear Darius telling his friends from his intellectual set, “because they’ve (people) given up on the possibility of it.”
In an awkward introduction at the bar, Nina catches Darius off-guard and, uncharacteristically, he fumbles and spills his drink on her. He recovers minutes later when called to the stage to recite one of his poems. He makes the most of the moment by calling his sensuous creation “A Blues for Nina.”
Flattered but embarrassed, she informs him in front of his friends that there are topics for poetry other than sex. When he asks her to name one, she writes the word “love” on his hand. Everyone is impressed; particularly Darius.
Darius runs into Nina at a record store managed by his friend, Sheila. She is there because she has just been fired from her job as a photographer’s assistant and desperately needs to hear the Isley Brothers. When Darius approaches her, she acts as thought she vaguely remembers his name. Darius seizes the opportunity though, by playing her a tender rendition of “Parker’s Mood.” While Nina remains unreceptive at that point, she finally buckles and agrees to a date when Darius appears, unannounced at her door presenting the very CD she had been looking for at the record store. He bribed Sheila so he could get her address and phone number off of the check she used to pay for a CD. His persistence pays off when a romantic evening of conversation at Savon’s house, dancing at a local reggae club, and Darius’ statement “I just want to come up and talk” leads to a passionate night at her apartment.
The next morning, Darius and Nina confide in their respective friends Savon and Josie that, in spite of the incredible sex, “It ain’t no love thing,” they “just kickin’ it.” Unfortunately, these two individuals aren’t exactly the best advisors they could have found - Josie is way down on men and lives her life vicariously through Nina, and Savon is mired in the problems of his eight-year marriage (his wife left him and took their son).
But Darius is getting interested. He even reveals to Nina the sacred location of “the Batcave” (his apartment), where some interesting foreplay ensues when she whips out her camera and tells Darius to take off his clothes. The romance advances.
Then, out of the blue, Marvin Cox (Khalil Kain), Nina’s former fiancée, shows up asking her for a second chance. At Josie’s suggestion, Nina uses the offer to test Darius: Will he be jealous, or coolly let her go? Darius pretends not to care, of course, and Nina moves to New York to see if she should resume her relationship with Marvin.
Inevitably, Marvin and Nina’s differences are irreconcilable, and Nina returns the engagement ring and then heads back to Chicago. Hoping to reconnect with Darius, Nina and Josie go to the Sanctuary, to no avail. Darius has settled down with a new girlfriend, Lisa (Jacqueline Fleming). Enter, Hollywood, whose friendly competition with Darius enables him to sense a prime opportunity for one-upmanship. Wood stops by the portrait studio where Nina now works to “cheer her up.”
Tensions run high when Wood brings Nina to Sheila’s house for a party that he knows Darius will be attending. Nina, feeling like a pawn in a bad game of male egos, asks Wood to take her home. He refuses and Darius comes to her rescue. It’s their first meeting since she went to New York. She confesses she still has feeling for him, and he assures her that Lisa means nothing to him. Swooning, they make up and head for a date at the famous Blackstone Hotel.
There, legendary Chicago DJ Herb Kent is hosting a “steppers” ball, featuring the inimitable dance style popular in Chicago. On the floor, Nina and Darius become a team again. The fire is relit as they complete the evening with a wet, but romantic walk around Buckingham Fountain.
Nina starts to inherit habits from Darius and vica versa. She starts smoking and develops a love for poetry. In return, he develops an eye for photography. But soon after their reconciliation everything starts to crumble. Nina finds Lisa’s telephone number around Darius’ apartment, and he gets the occasional 5am call that takes him out of the room. The issue of distrust rears its ugly head. Darius tries to smooth things over by whipping out her camera and telling her to take her clothes off, as she did in an earlier scene. But it is too late. “Come get your things from my apartment…why would you be with someone you don’t trust?” The scene ends with Nina returning the key.
Because of a job offer from Vibe magazine in New York, Nina decides to move. Josie, serving as a reluctant Cupid, intercedes by telling Darius of Nina’s plans. He takes the cue and makes a gallant but futile effort to talk to Nina before she leaves. Racing through Union Station, he just misses her train.
A year later, his book has been published, her career is off and running and Nina has been sent to Chicago to shot a Michael Jordan layout. Looking in vain for Darius at the Sanctuary, Nina takes the stage to recite a poem of her own. Startled, Darius turns and listens to her recital, which is about love remembered. “Funny what you can do in front of a room full of people,” she says, “and can’t do in front of one person.”
The movie ends with Nina leaving the Sanctuary and seeing Darius outside. Darius starts off by saying, “Longtime no see. I enjoyed your poem. Nina, there have been mistakes on both sides and I apologize for my part. I want to put the past in the past.” “Once again your timing couldn’t be worse…you always want what you want when you want it…why is everything so urgent”, Nina says. “Nina, this here, right now, at this very moment, is all that matters to me. I love you and that’s urgent like a mother fucker.”
love jones shows that love can be inconvenient. It encourages everyone to approach love the way Nina and Darius do - scared, awkward, and even sometimes alone. There’s the obligatory handful of tragic misunderstandings, prideful arguments, over-orchestrated sex scenes, and betrayal and reconciliation’s.
love jones steps back, allowing its characters to closely examine what is happening to them. They analyze their own instincts; wonder about each other’s feelings and even plot little traps to reveal the other’s true intentions
Nina and Darius relationship is built upon the use of some key things: sex and sexual invitations, pick-up lines and relationship openers, music and poetry, the actions of all the movies characters, friends being confidants and advisors, and the use of “Baxter’s techniques” to acquire information about the relationship play vital roles.
Their relationship proves that the movement in and out of the interaction stages is not set in stone. The stages conform to your situation. Nina and Darius seem to follow this type of pattern: initiating, experimenting, intensifying, terminating, experimenting, intensifying, integrating, bonding, stagnating, terminating, and initiating. They are also struggle with the roles society has laid out for women and men. And are both trying to figure out how to “play” without “getting played”. They’re both secretly wondering how you get beyond playing and move on to the love.
When you’re in your twenties, as Nina and Darius were, loving someone outside your friends and family can seem like a task for Mother Theresa. We twenty-somethings have been unleashed from our parents and the chances to experience sexual encounters of all sorts are numerous. But flirting and playing is one thing. Building relationships with the human objects of our desires is a challenge that many of us fail at miserably.
At one point in the movie, Darius asks his married friend Savon if he believes in the concept of soulmates. Savon’s response is that it depends on what day you ask him. You’re with who you’re with, he says. Love and marriage are pretty much what you make of them. love jones doesn’t fully answer the soulmate question. In the end, we are only promised that Nina and Darius will be together as long as their belief in the possibility of romance lasts.
The entire arc of Nina and Darius’ relationship is drawn up in well worn tropes: the meeting in a bar, the reluctant coupling, the jealously and conflict, even a mad rush by one lover to stop the other from leaving on a train.
love jones showed me that there is just no way around it: Love between a man and a woman is hard work. A conscious effort to relate to the opposite sex is what’s needed if we’re going to get the satisfaction we crave from that someone special. Our twenties can be about a lot more than simply getting our groove on. We can build lives with people while we are enjoying the fresh experiences we are having in our youth.