When life gives Radha Blank lemons, she makes lemonade and sticks two fingers up those who use age to stop you doing what makes you happy.
Middle-age sometimes sneaks up and smacks you right between the eyes without you even realising and makes you question, what exactly have I done with my life? That’s the exact inspiration behind Radha Blank’s Spike Lee-esque semi-autobiographical drama in which a change of career and fuck it all attitude scream right in the face of ageing.
Written, Directed and starring Radha as herself, the film follows her as she’s fast approaching the age of 40, a struggling playwright who has had to turn to teaching to pay the bills. Her teaching skills are almost non-existent with pupils that either worships the ground she walks on or has the attitude of a stinking rotten egg. As she traverses the rehearsals of her latest play, the feeling of dread that the subject of gentrification to a predominately Black neighbourhood proves she is not only ticking the diversity box for the snotty white investor but makes her feel like a total sell-out.
Radha has other ideas though, In order to reinvent herself, she begins to dabble in writing and performing her own Hip Hop with a producer and a love interest that just happens to be 17 years her junior. From smoking weed to disastrous first performances and sticking it to the “white man” on the opening night of her play the only person who seems to be sabotaging her life, is herself.
Having won the directing prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, this is shot entirely in black and white on 35mm throughout, the early days of Spike Lee’s classics ring louder than a bell and gives it that authentic New York stylised tone that fits like a glove to Radha’s highly personal and wholeheartedly relatable struggle.
It speaks to the mind and heart of those of us already over that peak of 40, disillusioned and unfulfilled with what their life has offered and become whilst giving hope that our lives haven’t heard that fit lady sing just yet but also offers up the notion to our younger friends life is not always what we expect it to be.
The Forty-Year-Old Version premieres on Netflix October 9th